Move over, Spike. Here comes Ion.
The UFC announced Tuesday that it will broadcast three UFC 125 prelims live Saturday night on Ion Television, a free network that reaches nearly 100 million homes. (You may remember Ion better as Pax TV, its original name from 1998-2005.)
It's big news for right now, though it's not quite clear yet what this means for future prelims. Spike has always been the home for UFC prelims -- along with 12 seasons of "The Ultimate Fighter," several free UFC cards overseas, Fight Nights and additional programming.
But the shift to Ion for UFC 125 prelims could indicate a new long-term broadcast partner. UFC and Versus had always been the go-to networks for UFC events, and Versus will show four events in 2011. Spike, we're not sure right now what's up.
The three UFC 125 prelims -- yes, three -- airing on Ion this Saturday night, beginning at 8:55 p.m. are
Marcus Davis vs. Jeremy Stephens
Josh Grispi vs. Dustin Poirier
Phil Baroni vs. Brad Tavares
If all three fights go the distance, that's 51 minutes of guaranteed coverage (three five-minute rounds, but one minute between rounds). That leaves just 14 minutes for commercials, hype, interviews and in-ring winner announcements. TIght schedule. That's why UFC always guaranteed just two prelims, with earlier fights broadcast if time remained.
Set your DVRs for this one, because it's going to interesting to watch them fit it all into 65 minutes of air time. Find Ion's channel listing in your area at iontelevision.com