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.
“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.”