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68° Good Afternoon
SportsMixed Martial Arts

MMA's Friday night fight begins

Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber coach opposing teams

Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber coach opposing teams of contestants in UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter Live." Photo Credit: FX

We begin with the particulars:

8 p.m. on MTV2: Bellator begins its sixth season with the featherweight tournament quarterfinals and a 145-pound title title fight between champion Joe Warren and challenger Pat Curran.

9 p.m. on FX: UFC begins its 15th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," only now it's called "The Ultimate Fighter: Live" because, well, the fights will air live. This week, there are 32 fighters (including Wantagh's Al Iaquinta) and 16 fights to determine who becomes actual cast members on the fighting reality show.

9 p.m. on Spike: "The Ultimate Fighter Fridays" hosted by Kimbo Slice (this week) features past episodes of the show when it aired on Spike for the last seven years.

What does it mean for you?

It means making a decision as to which serving of MMA you'll watch live and which you'll record and watch later on DVR. It also means you'll have plenty of fights to watch for the cost of the electricity needed to power your television and/or computer, modem and router.

What does it mean for them?

Ratings, viewers, dollars, brand-building. Bellator moved its fights to Friday nights to avoid going up against other major sporting events, including UFC pay-per-view fights and college football. The UFC, with the switch from Spike to the Fox family of networks (Fox, FX, Fuel TV) moved its "Ultimate Fighter" series from Wednesday nights to Friday nights and included live fights instead of taped. Spike has rights to the UFC library through 2012 and has indicated a clear intent to counter-program live UFC events on Fox channels.

UFC is a brand as much as it is a fighting promotion, and it's hard to see them taking a big ratings hit against Bellator, especially this week. But as Bellator continues to grow and put on full fight cards (with prelims streaming live on Spike.com) compared to one live fight in subsequent "TUF" shows (and the "reality" portion taped just days earlier), perhaps the Chicago-based Bellator can close the gap a bit.

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