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The Worldwide Leader in MMA? UFC strikes a huge deal with ESPN

After WWE took its talents to FOX, the UFC has decided to do the same to ESPN

It was only a matter of time. Once a deal between WWE and FOX became known, the dominoes were in place for the UFC to find a new network to promote their programming. They reportedly didn’t have to look far.

After striking a deal with ESPN Plus, the UFC grew their partnership and price value with the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN. According to Variety, the two agreed to a 5-year, $1.5 billion deal that will kick off in early 2019.

Along with broadcasting rights on ESPN Plus that was roughly $750 million, the UFC will be able to produce 30 total fight events, along with PPV’s. The Fight Pass app will still be in play. The UFC currently produces events on Fox Sports 1 and 2. Once the deal with FOX ends, all UFC programs will become obsolete. Looks like the UFC will have plenty of time to churn out content until then.

After the UFC was sold to WME|IMG for over $4 billion, the organization was hoping for a hefty price per-year once their initial deal with FOX expired. While it wasn’t quite what they expected, the lack of promotion surrounding events and the results of cards in general played a factor. Even with what seems like a loss to some, it is a huge win for an ever-growing company like the UFC.

It is an interesting time to be a fan of combat sports. What does this say about a promotion being worth a certain price while a singular brand of WWE’s is worth $1 billion? Adding on ESPN Plus’ deal does help elevate the status of the company, while also adding a boost in the revenue it can provide for ESPN, and vice versa. The fact that MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani is making the jump to ESPN as well shows the commitment the global company has to MMA.

Overall, this is a huge deal for the UFC after losing out on FOX programming. It is a step in the right direction for a company looking for some type of growth in an audience and in an image. Watching the two brands work out together (figuratively speaking of course) will be entertaining.

Combat sports won big this week, and it looks like both the UFC and WWE are just getting started.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.

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