Sherdog Rewind: An Interview with Spike TV President Kevin Kay

By Jack Encarnacao Dec 5, 2011

Seven years ago, the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship were making last-ditch pitches to keep their company alive. They needed a television deal, a way to expose to the masses what they saw as exciting and marketable about mixed martial arts. The initial pitch was regular live fights on television, on the order of boxing’s old “Tuesday Night Fights” cable series. Nobody was biting.

Spike TV President Kevin Kay was among those not keen on broadcasting live fight cards. However, the conversation changed when the UFC brought in the producer of the smash hit reality show “Survivor” to pitch an MMA-flavored series called “The Ultimate Fighter.”

“The light bulb kind of went off,” Kay said. “We thought, ‘OK, this is a way to expose fans to the sport and create characters and tell stories and let the fans understand what the athleticism, the discipline that goes into being an amazing athlete who gets in a cage and fights is; something that, if they knew about, they would follow these characters as they grow.”

In January 2005, Kay and company broadcasted the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” It drew surprisingly robust ratings out of the gate and sparked a partnership that unlocked astronomical growth opportunities for the UFC. The six-year run on Spike -- which ended on Saturday after 14 seasons -- took the UFC from desperate to lucrative and drew a substantial investment from network giant Fox.

In October, Spike announced that its parent company, Viacom, purchased a majority stake in the fledgling Bellator Fighting Championships promotion and will begin broadcasting its tournaments in 2013. It is a shift from the UFC-Spike arrangement, in which Spike paid the UFC escalating fees to broadcast its fights in a deal reportedly worth $35 million a year. The UFC-Fox agreement is said to be worth $90-100 million per year.

In this in-depth interview with Jack Encarnacao for the Sherdog Radio Network “Rewind” program, Kay discusses the history of the game-changing alliance between the UFC and Spike and the future for MMA on the network, as it seeks to do for Bellator what it did for the UFC.

To stay updated on the show, follow it on Twitter @SherdogRewind. How and why did the decision come together for Viacom to not only sign up a new MMA promotion for Spike but to actually buy into one?
Kay: We were in the middle of discussions about renewing our deal with the UFC back maybe a year ago. And we all kind of took stock of the fact that we were continually renegotiating our deal, and every couple of years we’d have escalating rights fees; and that we had helped to build the brand -- which is a fantastic brand, the UFC -- and they had certainly helped us to build Spike, and it was a great partnership. But we were paying more and more, and we were building a lot of value and equity in their company and not necessarily in the long-term going to profit from that. So it was purely a business decision that we made. We looked around the landscape, and we knew that Bellator was out there. And we felt like [Bellator CEO] Bjorn Rebney is a terrific promoter and runs a great organization, and it has a different kind of format than the UFC. It’s a tournament-based format, which was a point of differentiation that we liked. Because we’re in the space -- and we’ve been in the mixed martial arts space since the beginning -- guys come here, a young male audience comes to Spike expecting to see mixed martial arts. So we wanted to stay in the business, and we wanted to profit in the potential upside of any promotion that we’re in business with. So we felt like it was time to part ways with the UFC, and [we] know those guys will go on and do amazing things with their new partners while we build another organization and do the same thing for Bellator that we did for the UFC. Were there ever talks of buying a stake in the UFC?
Kay: There were brief discussions here internally. I don’t think they ever were raised with the UFC, but there was some discussion internally over the years about the possibility of that, but I don’t think that it ever got to any point that was serious. If you go back to our history with the UFC, when [UFC owners Dana White and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta] first came in here and pitched us the UFC, nobody was biting at the time. We were the only ones that said yes. Actually, the first couple of times that they came in, they were pitching fights, and we said, “No, we don’t know how to do that; we don’t know if the audience is ready for that.” It wasn’t until they brought [“Survivor” producer] Craig Piligian on board and brought us the idea of The Ultimate Fighter, which we got very excited about. The light bulb kind of went off because we thought, “OK, this is a way to expose fans to the sport and create characters and tell stories and let the fans understand what the athleticism, the discipline that goes into being an amazing athlete who gets in a cage and fights is; something that, if they knew about, they would follow these characters as they grow, and we would build them. We did that. We took that chance here, because we were a fledgling network at the time and we could. And we believed that there was an opportunity in there for us to be successful in bringing mixed marital arts to a big audience, but, in the beginning -- and Lorenzo and Dana talk about this all the time -- they paid us to put it on TV. That first season, they bought our time, and they owned the advertising time. It wasn’t until after the [first “The Ultimate Fighter” Finale fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar in April 2005] that we all went out behind the production truck and had a discussion about switching the arrangement, and we would license it. At the time, we knew that that Griffin-Bonnar moment was seminal. I think we all felt it. We felt like the first season had done really well, but I don’t know that anybody was absolutely certain that the trajectory would be what it has been. So we made a license arrangement with them at the time, and they built their business from there, and I think as we looked at it over time maybe we should have bought them at the time. But that wasn’t where we were from a financial perspective, and I’m not sure that would have been the right thing. And, by the way, I’m not even sure they would have been for sale. So that is true -- you guys did meet out behind the television truck after Griffin-Bonnar to continue the relationship with the UFC?
Kay: Oh, yeah. I grabbed Lorenzo and Frank and I said, ‘Come on boys, let’s go outside and talk.’ And they were happy to do it. To be clear, Jim Burns, who was our head of sports at the time, was the other person, and the four of us stood in the dirt, like behind the production trailer, and kind of hammered out the idea of changing the deal; and then, obviously, negotiated it later. Do you think if Griffin-Bonnar had not been so amazing that you would have called Lorenzo and Frank out back that night?
Kay: It’s a good question. I think we were all just so excited by it. And there was no question the season had been great. The ratings went up every week, and that was a great indicator that the audience was coming along, so we were already leaning in the direction of wanting to continue. We would have been crazy not to continue at that point, but the fight kind put us over the top. I looked around that room, and I saw people texting. People were texting their friends saying, ‘You’ve got to turn this on now.’ And we actually saw that, later in the ratings, the minute-by-minute ratings grew during the fight. So I think there was a pretty good chance that conversation was going to happen anyway. I just think that the crowd and the fight itself got us back out there by the truck that night, for sure. When you guys bring Bellator to Spike in 2013, is there kind of an underlying pressure for that first show to have a fight like Griffin-Bonnar?
Kay: We had a fight like Bonnar-Griffin two weeks ago [in Bellator] with [Michael] Chandler and [Eddie] Alvarez, right? You always want that fight, and there’s always pressure to try to have that fight. And I think you’ll see the first fight we do on Spike will be a fully stacked and loaded tournament. We’ll try to put the best talent in there and hope that we get great fights. I think you just never know. Like [Junior] dos Santos and [Cain] Velasquez: who thought that was going to end in 66 seconds? Obviously, nobody at Fox and nobody at the UFC and nobody over here at Spike thought that would happen, but we all know that that can happen in the sport. So you want Bonnar-Griffin every time; you want Chandler-Alvarez every time. Sometimes you get it; sometimes you don’t. That’s the sport; that’s the part of it you can’t control. When did it become clear that the deal with the UFC would not be renewed? How long has Spike been positioning for a post-UFC future?
Kay: I think, to be realistic, we’ve always thought that there might be a time that we wouldn’t be in the UFC business anymore, just because the rights fees might become astronomical. So we’ve always kept our eyes open. We wanted to continue to be in the UFC business as long as we could. It’s clearly a good business for us. I think if you look back at “The Ultimate Fighter 10,” the Kimbo [Slice] year when the ratings kind of skyrocketed, that was the moment where I thought, like, this is good news and bad news. The good news is we’d love to have these ratings all the time. The bad news is it’s not likely that it’s going to repeat at that level any time; it was kind of an anomaly. And the other part of the bad news is it’s just going to raise the price again. That’s the way the business runs. It’s nobody’s fault, but I think at that point, we were kind of thinking, “You know what? We better have a Plan B” -- Plan B being Bellator. How hard did you really try to keep the UFC?
Kay: There was a period of time where there was pretty healthy negotiation going on. It just got to a point where we looked at it and thought, “You know what? If we’re going to pay that much money and we’re going to continue down this path without owning a piece of it or being able to profit on the back end, we’ve got to rethink that.” So there’s no question that if we could have come to the right deal, we would have tried to figure out how to stay in business. We love those guys; they’ve been great partners to us. One of the things that seems to me to be such a critical part of the UFC-Spike relationship are the marathon airings of archived UFC fights, which raise awareness and the public’s understanding of the sport on a regular loop. Is there a similar idea for Bellator? As you’ve said before, it turns out that the value of taped MMA content diminishes over time.
Kay: I think that is actually true; you can run it too much. And the audience, the core audience, has seen it over and over and over again, and they loved seeing it, but it does diminish in value of ratings over time. The good news about Bellator is we got 58, 59 fights that really have not been that exposed, and we will repackage them and it will be new library product. And we’ll use it to build stars in the same way that we used “Unleashed” and all the other UFC vehicles to help build their stars. We’ll do the same thing with Bellator, and that library will diminish over time. But I think the most important thing is the first couple of years, where you’re really using the library to build stars and create fighters that people want to see and want to come back to. There is definitely a sense in the television business that live sports content is most appealing now because it is DVR-proof programming and therefore valuable to advertisers. But a lot of the highest-rated fights Spike has aired -- from the Kimbo Slice fight on “The Ultimate Fighter” to Brock Lesnar fights on Unleashed to the tape-delayed 2007 title fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan Henderson -- were not live. Where does this conviction come from that live fights are that much more valuable programming than taped ones?
Kay: You make some good points there, but there’s also the other side of that. The Rampage-Henderson fight was the highest-rated fight. It was also, I think, one of the first international fights that we did. I think, over time, the ratings of those have diminished, because people are getting the results online. And back then [when Rampage-Henderson took place], it wasn’t as known that that fight was going to happen and be on tape delay. Now, people become accustomed to being able to go get the results. So we’ve seen some of those international fights not do as well because they’re on tape delay. By the way, people always criticize us and say, like, “Well, why doesn’t Spike do them live, if they be at two o’clock in the afternoon or three o’clock in the morning? The real reason we didn’t do them live is because we couldn’t sell advertising at those times. We pay a lot of money for the product. We need to monetize it and make our money back, and, so, putting a fight on at 10 o’clock in the morning on Spike when we don’t get decent advertising rates … it’s is an advertising issue, just to clear that up, because I‘ve heard that many times. I think the long-term [answer] is we need to DVR-proof. You don’t watch the NFL taped. You don’t watch Major League Baseball taped. You don’t watch the NBA taped. And I don’t think people generally want to watch mixed martial arts taped. They do want to watch library product, no question about it. The Chandler-Alvarez replay on MTV2 the other night did almost as well as the [live] fight, so [with] great fights, people will tune in and watch again. But I think live fights are where it’s at, and part of our history with the UFC and part of the way the UFC is structured is they put all their great stuff on pay-per-view. I mean, they’re putting some of it on Fox now, but we’ll see … where they have to net out. Their revenue is derived from pay-per-view primarily, and so they do a lot of pay-per view-fights. And for us, we weren’t going to be able to, one, get that many more fights, or, two, afford that many more fights from them. So we believe that live sports and live fights is where the real dollars from advertisers will flow and where our audience really wants to be. The Bellator format allows us to do what amounts to about 25 fights a year, over 50 hours of live programming. We’ll probably expand that, and that’s where we see the potential growth. When it comes to high-profile fights, it strikes me that Spike only got one UFC title fight over the years. Was Spike getting big enough fights to raise ratings to the point where it could get back the return on its investment licensing the UFC product?
Kay: I think we always got good fights, I’ll say that. I think we always agreed on the fights, and we got good fights. We are understanding of the fact and were always understanding of the fact that the UFC has to reserve fights. Just by virtue of their business model, [the UFC] has to reserve the best stuff for a pay-per-view, because that’s where they make the most money. And that’s a pure business decision on their part that we respect. We took what we could get, and I never felt like we got bad fights. I think we got great fights and great fighters. We were very focused in a lot of our discussions with the UFC on trying to get fighters who had been on TUF, who we invested [in], who the audience had invested 10 or 12 weeks watching, to be on our [UFC] Fight Nights; because our audience knew those guys from TUF, so a lot of times discussions would be, like, “Look, we know we’re not going to get a title fight for what we’re paying. You’ve got to put that on pay-per-view because you’re going to make a lot more money with that. But let’s build a great card partly with TUF fighters and then partly with a couple of premiere fighters.” And I think we got good fights. I can’t say we weren’t jealous of the pay-per-view cards. Sure we were. Spike has another year here, in 2012, where it is within its rights to broadcast archived UFC fights. How do you use taped UFC fights at a time when you are headed towards a new relationship with Bellator?
Kay: The deal [is] there’s a tail-end year of the library, and we pay for it. And we pay a good price for it. So we have to use it, and we’d be foolish not to use it. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t schedule it. And I think, look, as a guy that’s scheduled television shows and has the library to use, we’re going to take advantage of the fact that Fox and FX are going to be out there promoting guys who we have in the library. It’s like free marketing, and we’d be silly not to take advantage of that. That’s our job. Our job is to use this library and monetize it. If the shoe were on the other foot, I can guarantee you Dana White would do what we’re doing. On Nov. 12, when Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos were fighting on Fox, Spike ran a marathon head-to-head of archived fights featuring both heavyweights. Honestly, was the hope that people would be a little bit confused and think Spike was airing the fight everyone was talking about?
Kay: We weren’t hoping to confuse anybody, but we purposely titled it “Unleashed: For the Heavyweight Title,” because “Unleashed” said to our fans who watched us loyally for six years now -- they know “Unleashed” means taped. That’s the title of the taped library show, so we weren’t trying to confuse anybody. But what we did do is take advantage of the fact that Fox was promoting the hell out of Junior and Cain for months it seemed like, on the NFL and every place else that they were promoting it, putting a lot of muscle behind it. And we believed that people would watch. And actually, if you look at the ratings, before the fight [on Fox], we were up to 900,000 viewers; during the fight, we went down to 700,000 viewers; and after the fight, we went back up to 900,000 viewers. I think people wanted to see more Junior and Cain. From us, it’s just a programming move; that’s what it is. It’s a programming move, and it paid off. Those were pretty high “Unleashed” ratings these days. And you know, again, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t make those moves. One of the things MMA fans were introduced to during the UFC’s run on Spike is the idea of counterprogramming, where the UFC would put content on Spike the same night a competitor was doing a show on pay-per-view or another channel. Is there a feeling that the UFC used Spike over the years in its efforts to protect its market share and keep competitors at bay, and now it is fair to do the same thing to them as you head into the Bellator deal?
Kay: What I would say is that the UFC would come to us when there were other promotions out there and ask us to counterprogram, and they would suggest that, “We’ll do a fight that night.” And look, we were happy to help our partners. That’s what we were supposed to do. I think now we have to use the library the way that we have to use the library and be smart about it. It’s not malicious; it’s just business. I think, just in the same way that Dana was always trying to figure out how to use Spike to build his business, we have to use the library to do it. And, by the way, the library’s available for them to buy back if they’d like to, so they can put an end to that if they want to. And I understand why they don’t. We have an obligation to monetize the library we paid for, and that’s sort of where we’re at, and that’s what we have to do. One of the things Spike also did is get a Bellator-esque, number two player in the pro wrestling industry, TNA/Impact Wrestling, into a healthy position after World Wrestling Entertainment left Spike in 2005. Are there any parallels between what Spike did in the wrestling business and what it is looking to do with Bellator?
Kay: Yes, absolutely. And we absolutely believe they’re two completely different kinds of businesses, but we absolutely believe that if we handle Bellator with the same kind of attention and responsibility and strategy that we’ve done with TNA, we can have the same kind of success. There’s no question, when the WWE and Spike parted ways -- by the way, one of the reasons was the success of the UFC and we knew we had something that we could count on going on forward and we didn’t have to necessarily stay in the WWE business anymore -- we went to TNA and said, “Look, you guys have a good product, just like we believe Bellator has a good product, we can nest it here.” We started it on Saturday nights, I believe at midnight, and it did like 500,000 viewers that first year. And then we moved it to Thursday, and it was later, and then we moved it to prime time, and it kept growing and it kept growing. We worked really hard with TNA to help make choices about their roster and improve their production and improve their storytelling, and, for us, as marketers, to promote it in different ways. We recently changed the name from TNA to Impact Wrestling. There’s lots of thinking and thoughtfulness that went into this process that I think has helped them, and I think they would tell you the same thing. If we do our job right and they do their job right and we protect it and build it, we will be successful. And I feel like we’re doing exactly the same kind of strategy with Bellator, which is [Spike] working very closely with the organization. Hey, we’re not fight promoters. We don’t promote fights. I never had a conversation with the UFC about “that guy should fight that guy.” They’re good at that, and Bjorn is really good at that. We’re a platform, and we’re marketers. And what we do is give advice and lend our expertise about how to use our platform and how to build stars and build characters and tell stories over the long-term; and then put our promotions people to work to creatively execute that, and they’re really good at it. So that’s our plan with Bellator. We have a network that we can use like we did with the UFC: all day, every day, whenever we want, we can put Bellator on. We can build shoulder programming around it. We’ll put on more fights, and we will protect it as much as we can and find the right places for it to air and be smart about it. And I think in the long-term, we will build a very successful promotion. We have already seen some cross-promotion between Bellator and Impact Wrestling. We never really saw that with the UFC, with exception of one live appearance by Hulk Hogan on a UFC Fight Night. Why was that?
Kay: The UFC was just less receptive to it. I think that their sense was wrestling’s wrestling and mixed martial arts is mixed martial arts. They were very gracious and helpful with Hulk. I think that Dana is a big fan of Hulk Hogan’s, and he was excited to have him be there and to help promote. But I think, generally, their feeling was it was a little confusing to the fans, and it’s not necessarily the same audience. We believe a little differently, and TNA has always believed a little differently, so you’re going to see lots more of those opportunities. I do believe there’s crossover. Maybe it’s a little behind closed doors, but I think lots of wrestling fans are mixed martial arts fans and lots of mixed martial arts fans are wrestling fans. And those are two big platforms we have that we believe can help promote each other, so you’ll see that. Spike proved there is a crossover appeal when it put the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on right after the highest-rated show in wrestling, WWE “Monday Night Raw,” in 2005. Can you speak to how important that positioning was to the UFC’s success?
Kay: You know, I’ll tell you the whole story. The UFC was very anxious to get the show on before “The Contender” debuted, which was a competitive reality show about boxing that Mark Burnett was doing. They really wanted to be first, and we wanted to be first. Dana and Lorenzo and I got on the phone one day, and they said, ‘Well, what are you going to do to market it? What can we do to market it? How can we help each other and get the word out that this is going to be on?’ And I said, “Look, guys, you want to put it in January. I don’t have any real money in January to market this thing, but what I can give you is the slot behind Raw.’” We had other priorities at the time, and it was a time-buy essentially. I said, “What I can do is I can put it behind Raw -- which is the biggest thing on the network -- where we believe wrestling fans will watch your show, and they were really excited about that. They thought that was a great idea, and it turned out to be the right idea. I do believe that wrestling fans are MMA fans and MMA fans are wrestling fans; not all of them but certainly a big enough number. That first season was propelled by being a great show and something that people hadn’t seen before, but if you don’t have a lead-in, the whole landscape changes. That was instrumental in getting the UFC to be popular. It was a great launching platform, and I think it worked. And by the way, I had tried a bunch of different things behind Raw over the years before that, and nothing had worked. We put some animation in there: “Stripperella” with Pam Anderson and produced by Stan Lee, “Gary the Rat” with Kelsey Grammer. We put some live action shows in there. We’d never had any traction in that post-Raw slot until we put “The Ultimate Fighter” on there. One of the breakthrough developments was the ratings put up by the Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock fight in October 2006, which had more viewers among males 18-34 than the World Series that night. Suddenly, a lot of people in the television and sports and media business could not deny the UFC had traction. What did that night do for MMA?
Kay: I think it did a couple of things. I think one was it did, as you said, wake up the press to [the fact that] there’s something going on here that was unexpected. And I think what it showed -- and this is where the UFC and mixed martial arts, in general, have the most strength -- is its young male audience. Everybody always says you can’t get 18-to-34s to be loyal to anything, and I think Spike has actually completely proven that not to be true. We’ve got a very loyal 18-34 audience. But especially in sports, I think what it pointed to was that sports like Major League Baseball are just aging up; they’re old. I look at Major League Baseball ratings all the time, and sometimes their strength is in the 50-plus [age category]. What [the Ortiz-Shamrock ratings] woke people up to was there’s an opportunity for 18-34s that is unexploited, and 18-to-34-year-old guys love this. They love the mixed martial arts, because they grew up on it. You know, they took karate and tae kwon do, they want to understand Brazilian jiu-jitsu, they’ve heard of the Gracies. So that was a defining moment, that those ratings actually woke up people to start thinking about that, talking about it and writing about it. I think the other thing it did is it changed the advertising landscape, because, up until that moment, it was, like, “Oh, there’s a reality show and it’s pretty successful and maybe we’ll look at that, but we’ve got issues with the violence and we’re not so in love with it.” But when those numbers hit for Shamrock-Ortiz, it was, like, “We have to pay attention, and this is clearly getting a loyal young 18-34.” I think that was the beginning of more mainstream advertisers coming in to Spike and coming to the mixed martial arts. Since then, has there been any shift in the advertising world? Are the UFC and MMA still only considered valuable to reach males 18-34? Has the audience grown more complex?
Kay: Well, I think so. I think you see mainstream advertisers in big ways. Before that, we had, you know, energy drinks and maybe some video games [advertising during UFC events]. But after [Ortiz-Shamrock] is when you started to see movie studios advertising broadly, not just for their young male titles but even titles that were just male-based, more 18 to 49. Then you saw the Burger Kings of the world come in, very mainstream advertisers. You saw eventually Bud Light in, Miller-Coors came in. So you see these traditional sports marketers coming to the table who are going after men, and you hadn’t seen that before. Look, everything takes time, and [with] mixed marital arts, there are advertisers that are never going to buy it. By the way, that goes for lots of programming; it’s not just mixed martial arts. There’s the “Do Not Buy” list, and you’re never going to convince those people to get into the mixed marital arts, but I think there’s so much money out there, particularly in the sports world. It’s just going to take time. Part of what’s great about what the UFC is doing with Fox is that [it] will open up more doors to more mainstream advertisers. And that will benefit Bellator, and it will benefit the other little guys that come along in the future. It’s paving the way for more mainstream advertisers, and that’s a good thing for everybody. We’ve talked mostly about the UFC’s growth on Spike, but, last year, the average rating for a live UFC fell to 1.26 from 1.6 in 2005 and 2006. Season 13 of “The Ultimate Fighter” was the lowest-rated in the history of the series, and “Unleashed” ratings have fallen from several years ago. Live UFC events on Versus did exceptionally low ratings this year. Is there a sense that the UFC or MMA has potentially reached a plateau on television?
Kay: Well, I hope not (laughs). I hope that the UFC continues to have tremendous success. The more the UFC grows, the more the whole pie grows. You want everybody to have success. I don’t think it would be good for anybody if the UFC doesn’t end up being successful with their new partners. I believe they have a great platform. You know, it’s Fox and it’s FX. Those are great places to be, and they have the full support of Fox Sports behind them. I think the ratings are reflective of a lot of things. Look, the Brock Lesnar season just wasn’t that good. Let’s be honest. It wasn’t the Brock that the audience expected. The audience wanted Brock the bad guy, and Brock was more of a good guy, and I don’t think it was that great a season. I’ll take a little responsibility for it. We moved the timeslot because we believed that Brock would draw. If there was ever going to be a time to move the time slot up, it was going to be with Brock Lesnar, because that was the guy that, when he was on the WWE, five million-plus fans were watching. We thought it would have broader appeal. “American Idol” had more of an effect on it than we expected, so I don’t think you can necessarily look at that as saying, “Oh, that’s the beginning of the end.” I think there’s lots of factors that went into that particular one. Look, the UFC had a tough year this year; they had a lot of injuries. I mean, they had a lot of big guys not be able to fight, so that has an impact. They’re in a transition period between us and their new partners. That has an impact. I believe that we’re putting on a great promotion [with Bellator], and, on MTV 2, you’re seeing people really get to see Bellator. More fans are getting to see more fights, more fighters. The UFC will do great because they’re great. And we will put on a great product too, and everybody will help grow this together. I think ratings, sometimes people put more value ... listen, my bosses put a lot of value on ratings. And we fight that battle every day. But you can’t look at ratings over a week, a month, even a quarter. I think you have to look over a long period of time, and what you’ve seen from the UFC and mixed martial arts, in general, is that it’s growing. And if there was a year where it didn’t grow, there’s probably a lot of factors that go into that. I think that the long-term health of mixed martial arts is really good, and I think everything that’s going on between Bellator and the UFC is only going to help to continue to make it better and grow more.


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