I was a fill-in host on a sports talk radio show the Friday before UFC 92 on 1530 Homer in Cincinnati and talked MMA with CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel. He said he thought the sport would be bigger at this point. He thought that it would really blow up once ESPN gets on board and starts showing it but that he expected it to be better off now than it is.
I can't help but think the one piece of the puzzle the UFC is missing right now is a major TV deal. UFC president Dana White repeatedly says that it's not a priority for the UFC and that when he can get the right deal, then the UFC will be on network TV. He's never shy to mention that Elite XC signed a bad deal (which may be why they aren't in business anymore) and that the UFC wouldn't make the same mistake.
But it's astonishing that this hasn't happened yet. The UFC outdraws MLB and NBA games in the coveted 18-34 demographic when they go head to head. It's a proven commodity and no one else is showing it. It just makes sense for a network to get involved with the UFC on a long-term basis; now is the time to buy stock in MMA and the UFC.
From the UFC's standpoint, it has a strong product. The competition has been rendered irrelevant. The Ultimate Fighter has given the UFC a new generation of stars and competitors. The UFC still has the star power of Chuck Liddell for at least another few years.
To make the next jump, the UFC needs the TV deal. When it comes to the long-term future of the sport, the international movement is a sound business decision, but when it comes to drawing more fans and more power here, the TV deal is paramount.