UFC set to take US rights to open market

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is set to take its US broadcast rights to the open market after an exclusive negotiating period expired with current partner, pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports.

The mixed martial arts promotion is currently engaged in a seven-year deal with Fox which runs from 2012 to 2018, but the window for extending this contract has now passed, according to multiple reports.

The MMAMania website said the UFC will now seek to seal deals with multiple partners, in a bid to drive more than $450m (€377.6m) per year from its domestic broadcast rights.

Showtime Sports executive vice-president and general manager, Stephen Espinoza, last month said the pay-television broadcaster is interested in acquiring US rights to the UFC once the Fox deal expires.

Espinoza said Showtime, a major broadcaster of combat sports, would be interested in being part of an arrangement whereby multiple networks hold rights.