ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC once called home.
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“UFC 242,” the September 14 event, takes place from Dubai, which means the live window for U.S. viewers is significantly earlier than normal – noon to 2 p.m. eastern. ESPN and ESPN2 can’t broadcast the preliminary card, because they have a large schedule of college-football games to air. To solve the problem, the preliminary matches will air on FX. That network, once part of 21st Century Fox, was for seven years the home to a good chunk of the overall UFC schedule, until Walt Disney’s ESPN won rights to UFC in 2018.
“With a packed college football schedule on Saturday Sept. 7, we’re excited to have FX – added to the company in the recent 21st Century Fox deal – bring fans the preliminary bouts for UFC 242, while ESPN+ remains the home for the pay-per-view Main Event,” said Paul Melvin, a spokesman for ESPN+.
Executives have no plans to return the UFC to FX on a regular basis, but in a pinch the network seemed a good roost for a few hours of UFC. Fans are accustomed to watching the games on the network.
FX became part of Walt Disney earlier this year, all due to a massive $71.3 billion purchase of the bulk of Fox’s cable and studio assets.
ESPN intends to announce its plans Saturday evening, during a broadcast of the preliminary matches for “UFC 241.”