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Laurena reveals why ABSCBN lost UFC but gained One, URCC

Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PARAÑAQUE—ABSCBN Sports head Dino Laurena likened the failed renewal of partnership between the broadcast giant and renowned MMA promotion UFC to trials we face in life as he told Dugout Philippines on Thursday the real story why the said partnership surprisingly collapsed.

"Kahit sa sarili mong buhay, may mangyayari sa iyo [na hindi maganda]. Anong gagawin mo? Uupo ka [lang] ba? It's inevitable. We weren't able to come to an agreement with UFC. It's a business, and we're all entitled to that," Laurena bared.

The UFC-ABSCBN partnership ended just as the TV station's cable sports channel Balls went off-air for good by the turn of the year. UFC would, few days into the new year, announce a new TV deal with rival network TV5, while some of the regular shows in Balls have been absorbed by free TV counterpart Sports and Action to strengthen its programming.

However, Laurena does not want to consider the Kapamilya Network's newfound alliance with top-tier Philippine-based promotion URCC and Asia's biggest MMA act One Championship as a temporary relief from its "breakup" with UFC.

"Hindi ito sa kailangang rumebound. Kahit sa love, mahirap ang rebound, kaya huwag kayong re-rebound," he jokingly said.

In fact, he hinted that the new partnerships could be long-term.

"MMA is already in our hearts.... Ang ABSCBN [ang magiging] mata ng bawat Pilipino [para sa] One Championship at URCC," Laurena vowed.

So how did ABSCBN get the broadcasting right to One and URCC?

Laurena answered, "We moved on ahead [from the loss of UFC]... opened our doors, and talked to people who are interested in partnering with us."

A press conference was held at the City of Dreams Grand Ballroom to make the new TV deal with One formal.

Laurena said in the presser that the partnership will begin with the Global Rivals event at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday night.

The former Studio 23 will broadcast the fight night, set for a 7 p.m. start, on a slightly delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. with a replay on its high-definition counterpart on cable TV.

ABSCBN's own deal with URCC starts with URCC: Rebellion on April 23 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom.

"Modesty aside, they chose the right partner," Laurena assured.

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