Earlier today (Mon., March 18, 2019), it was revealed that ESPN will now be the sole pay-per-view (PPV) provider (via ESPN+) for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the United States moving forward. Get all of the details here.
While many fight fans will understandably be a bit hesitant to accept the changes, UFC President Dana White says it’s all for the best and everyone will benefit. After all, ESPN has proven to be a determined partner from the jump.
“So right out the gate, day one, these guys were incredible partners. We are very aligned with them in that I believe in everything that they are doing and the direction that they are going in with the network. It’s the same direction we’re going in. I say it all the time, everything in life is about timing, and the timing couldn’t be better for us to be with ESPN,” White said in an exclusive sit-down with Megan Olivi. “So these guys came in, kicked the tires, looked under the hood and they liked what they saw. Now, we are going to go with them for everything. Pay-per-view (PPV) is going to be with them, the fights that we are doing on ESPN+ and ESPN linear,” he explained.
“This is an exclusive deal, we are exclusively with ESPN. When we were with everybody, we couldn’t even offer discounts on pay-per-view and things like that. You’d have to get the approval of all these different groups. Now it’s a one-stop shop. ESPN is going to be able to bundle; ESPN+ plus the pay-per-views. It’s not all worked out exactly how it’s going to go down, but this is amazing for UFC fans,” he added.
“They are going to be able to get so much more value out of the fights, whether it’s ESPN+ or pay-per-view with everything being on ESPN. We did this because it’s good for everybody and it’s good for us, the fighters and absolutely, positively incredible for the fans. And people will get nervous with these streaming thing, but I hate to break it you, streaming is where everything is going.”
And remember, UFC still has Fight Pass, which White says will be getting plenty of fresh content in the coming years. And he also dropped a nice nugget revealing that the deal with ESPN has been bumped up to seven years, as well as his own contract with UFC.
“So between us and ESPN, there has never been a better time to be a fan. We had a five-year deal with them, now we have a seven-year deal. And Ari Emanuel and I just signed a new seven-year deal, too. So we are here for seven years and ESPN is here for seven years. The incredible things we are going to work on, I can’t even tell you how pumped I am for all of this stuff.”
Still, there was a time when UFC on ESPN was nothing but a dream. Now, White says, “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” can’t get enough UFC.
“It couldn’t have been better timing. Everything worked out perfect and for a company that wouldn’t cover us years ago, now they love us so much it’s awesome. For somebody like me, who’s been here since day one, it’s all sort of surreal. But this is what we always dreamed of. We’re doing what I always believed we could do and what I hoped someday we would do. It’s everything me and UFC has ever dreamed of. And every fighter,” he concluded.
The venture will kick off with UFC 236, which is set to go down in Atlanta, Ga., on April 13, 2019, featuring a championship double-header as Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier fight for the interim Lightweight title, while Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya collide for the interim Middleweight strap.