ESPN to broadcast 42 live UFC events starting in January

Updated May 23, 2018 - 6:40 pm

ESPN is going all-in on UFC programming for at least the next five years.

After announcing a deal to stream live fights on ESPN Plus this month, The Walt Disney Co. and UFC have reached a deal to air at least 10 live events per year on ESPN’s networks.

ESPN reported the entire rights package cost the network $1.5 billion over the five years. Variety first reported the deal on Wednesday morning.

The agreement, which takes effect in January, calls for ESPN and ESPN Plus to be the exclusive U.S. digital and linear distributor of UFC events with at least a portion of 42 live events per year across ESPN’s platforms.

That number includes 20 full fight cards on ESPN Plus, 10 main cards on ESPN’s broadcast networks and 12 pay-per-view preliminary cards on the networks. Preliminary cards for network cards will be streamed on ESPN Plus.

The events will be branded UFC on ESPN Fight Night and UFC on ESPN Plus Fight Night.

“ESPN’s unparalleled multimedia platform is the perfect home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “UFC fans are passionate and loyal, and we plan to bring the full power of ESPN’s live coverage, powerful storytelling and unmatched distribution to serve them in an unprecedented fashion.”

ESPN announced it will bring a variety of UFC content to its networks, including content from the organization’s library, reairs of pay-per-views and a 30-minute special breaking down each pay-per-view event.

“Every year for the last 18 years, we have taken this sport and brand to another level,” UFC president Dana White said. “We find innovative ways to promote our athletes and build stars. Today is another monumental day for UFC, our athletes and our fans.”

The UFC’s deal with Fox Sports ends in December. More than 120 events have aired between Fox network events and Fox Sports 1, beginning with a heavyweight title bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos in November 2011.

“Fox Sports has enjoyed an amazing partnership with the UFC over the last seven years,” a statement from the network read. “As Fox Sports was planning the launch of FS1, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta were the first partners to believe in the idea and vision of the new network. We look forward to finishing out 2018 with more exciting live events and wish the UFC continued success.”

Fox reportedly has reached a deal to bring “WWE Smackdown” to the network beginning in fall 2019.

ESPN Plus is a streaming service available for $4.99 per month. Along with live events, it will be home to an extensive library of UFC programming, prefight and postfight shows, live weigh-ins and “UFC Countdown” episodes, as well as “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.”

The UFC’s online platform, Fight Pass, still will be available. It also will be available to purchase through ESPN Plus, where consumers can purchase and view UFC pay-per-view events.

Contact Adam Hill at or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Covering The Cage Videos
Covering the Cage: Jones, Nunes win at UFC 232
Amanda Nunes defeats Cyborg in the women's featherweight division and Jon Jones returns to UFC as the light heavyweight champion. Covering the Cage host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill recap the UFC 232 main and co main events.
Las Vegas MMA fighter Joey Ruquet joins Copa Combate tournament
When Combate Americas' Copa Combate tournament takes place on Dec. 7, Las Vegas-based MMA fighter Joey Ruquet will step in for Gaston Reyno and compete for the $100,000 prize money in the 8-man, one night featherweight tournament.
Espino, Chiasson claim UFC contracts with wins at TUF 28 Finale
Juan Espino was crowned as the TUF heavyweight winner when he submitted Justin Frazier at the finale in Las Vegas and Macy Chiasson submitted Pannie Kianzad to become the TUF 28 women's featherweight winner.
Kamaru Usman excited for what's next after TUF 28 win
After taking a win over Rafael dos Anjos at the TUF 28 Finale, UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman says he can be ready for anything that comes next or a quick turnaround if it gets him closer to a title shot.
Dana White on what's next for Usman and the flyweight division
UFC president Dana White spoke with media after the TUF 28 Finale to discuss what's next for the flyweight division and the main event winner, UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman.
Dos Anjos and Usman TUF 28 media day
Rafael dos Anjos and Kamaru Usman talk about facing each other at the TUF 28 Finale at a media day leading up to the Nov. 30 contest. Their welterweight bout will serve as the main event.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like