Details about the UFC's much talked about preview shows for GSP/Penn 2 have started to leak out. The idea was to model them after HBO's successful 24/7 Boxing programs, which have generated a huge amount of interest from fans. The shows take a look behind the scenes at the lives of the boxers as they train for their fights. The UFC plans on copying the formula, in the hopes it can carry St-Pierre and Penn to record numbers on PPV.
The series of three shows will premiere on January 14 and air each Wednesday at 10:30 ET on Spike TV in the three weeks prior to the fight on January 31. With the UFC producing the series and Penn training half a world away in Hawaii, plus St-Pierre's jet-setting training schedule, a lot of money will be on the line. The UFC is hoping to not only generate additional PPV buys, but also draw solid ratings on Spike TV. The advertising market is stagnant right now and sales are way down. This is a chance for the UFC, who has largely avoided any economic downturn, to prove to advertisers once again that they can bring in viewers no matter how poor the economy.
24/7 is a great show, even if you do not like boxing all that much. As a fight fan, it is tough not to be interested in seeing the inner workings of world-class fighters preparing for enormous matches. I think this will be a big success for the UFC and open the door for other series in the future. Penn and St-Pierre are the perfect fighters to launch the series. They are arguably two of the top five pound for pound MMA fighters in the world, have engaging personalities, and genuinely seem to have animosity between them. Those elements add up to make it a memorable show. It at least has to be better than the recent seasons of The Ultimate Fighter.