Fox Sports 1 doesn't have any college football on the slate this Thursday. That's OK though, they've got a solid backup plan: UFC 165. FS1 will be re-ariing the broadcast of the show (with commercials inserted, obviously), including the epic light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson in the main event.
The fight between Jones and Gustafsson was immediately declared the front-runner for fight of the year, and will now be airing on free TV less than a month after its original airing on pay-per-view. The UFC has often re-aired their PPV events on free television, but to the best of my knowledge, they've never done it this quickly.
Is it a desperate ratings ploy? Well, this Thursday is a *loaded* night of sports on television. Over on Fox, the Red Sox and Tigers will play Game 5 of the ALCS. Tenth-ranked Miami takes on UNC on ESPN. TNT has an NBA exhibition game between the Heat and Nets on tap. NHL Network is airing the Penguins-Flyers clash. And then, the new king of Thursday nights: Thursday Night Football on NFL Network, which will pit the Seahawks against the Cardinals this week.
On one hand, it's admirable to see FS1 going all-out to avoid getting absolutely smashed. On the other, this seems like a moment of playing your trump card in a high-risk situation. The UFC re-air would be lucky to finish fifth out of those six sports programs going on at the same time. I love the boldness of the idea and who knows, if it gets a big audience maybe we'll see more PPV re-airs on FS1. But given the competition on the horizon and the fact that it's not a live event, it seems like a move that may struggle to gain traction.