Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer reported on today's free Wrestling Observer Radio show that the heavy promotion on last night's Raw that the WWE Network would debut sometime in 2012 was prompted by fears that their combat entertainment competitor UFC was going to start their our network soon and they wanted to announce their plans publicly first. After all, it's never good to come off as copycats to the general public who wouldn't know that WWE had been planning their network for many months before the rumours surfaced that UFC had the same idea. However, unbeknownst to WWE, UFC has since lost interest in the idea due to their new TV partners FOX not wanting to collaborate with them on such a project. Given that UFC signed a seven year deal with FOX, unless they change their minds, this means that a UFC network is now unlikely until the end of this decade.
It's not surprising that WWE came to the wrong conclusion that UFC might be announcing their our network soon. A couple of months ago, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported that UFC were in talks to buy a majority share in the G4 cable network from Comcast. Due to being a part of the NBC Universal family, WWE may have also caught wind that UFC's NBC Sports offer, which they were expected to take at one point, included plans to partner on a UFC network. So WWE would have likely expected the FOX deal to include similar plans.
Good news for pro wrestling fans and WWE stockholders is that WWE have already come to their senses and changed their mind on their crazy idea to develop their network into a general entertainment network instead of a pro wrestling network, which was part of their mindset behind the big push to rebrand their company from World Wrestling Entertainment into simply WWE that started in April. Their film division has been a financial flop of late and the butt of many jokes, so going down a similar route with their network would have been a disaster waiting to happen.