CHOT Reyes has assured a full complement of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fights to be shown both on free television and a cable channel, now that Sports5 has secured the rights to air the fight cards of the world's premier mixed martial arts outfit starting in January.
Reyes, Digital5 chief and the outgoing head of Sports5, confirmed that TV5's sports arm has secured the rights to air UFC fights to add to a growing portfolio of shows that includes the PBA and Super Liga volleyball matches and tournaments organized by Fiba.
The former Gilas Pilipinas coach said all UFC fights will be shown live on Cignal's cable Hyper channel and on free television TV5 on a delayed basis, but only because of restrictions on the showing of MMA fights during prime time.
"We have big plans for Hyper," said Reyes, hinting that another major acquisition will be announced soon.
Reyes declined to give financial details about the deal which allowed Sports5 to wrest the TV rights to UFC fights away from the ABS-CBN-owned Balls Channel, which has since announced to its subscribers that it will be going off the air at the end of the year.
Industry sources said Sports5 had previously battled ABS-CBN for the TV rights to NBA and UAAP matches, forcing the giant network to 'overextend' itself in both deals and leaving it vulnerable in the fight for the UFC contract.
"UFC was really Sports5's target from the start," the source said.
The multi-titled coach said the TV deal also gives the group the option to stage UFC fight cards in Manila in the future similar - if not bigger - than the groundbreaking UFC Fight Night card bannered by Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber at the Mall of Asia Arena last May.
"We hold that option, but of course we still have to study it," he said.