Thursday, October 22, 2009

MSU-Iowa, UFC in Bar TV Fight

If you're outside East Lansing and planning to head to a sports bar to watch MSU-Iowa you might be out of luck - not just to find a TV with the game on but also to find a seat at the bar.

The reason for that is an unfortunate match up with the most popular sports bar destination programming today, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC 104, featuring a Light Heavyweight title fight between Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

Typically UFC events start at 10 p.m., which one wouldn't think would be an issue going up against a first kick in the MSU-Iowa tilt at just after 8 p.m. There are two problems with that logic, however.

First, the UFC event is on pay per view, meaning that if any bar is showing it they're paying a cover fee against the estimated total capacity of their venue. Since they're literally on the hook for you watching the UFC anyways, many sports bars refuse to change even one television to alternate programming. Second, in order to up their buy rate, the UFC broadcasts some preliminary bouts free on Spike TV at 9 p.m. Before they did that, most bars showing the fights were full at 8:45. Now, you're lucky if you can get a seat by 8.

For some Spartan bars, like the Capitol Lounge in Washington, D.C., this won't be an issue. The basement of the bar is packed to the gills for any MSU football game, and the crowd goes from "standing room only" to "packed like sardines" for the bigger games.

However, if it's just a small group of Spartan fans attending, you likely won't be that lucky. Don't make the mistake of showing up to watch a game that won't be broadcast. Call ahead to make sure, and be sure to speak with a manager who has control of the televisions to make a reservation and arrange which TV will show the Spartan game.

By the way, there are two MSU alums who fight in the UFC - former Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans and lightweight contender Gray Maynard. Neither are fighting at UFC 104, so you won't have to worry about missing a Spartan in action.

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