The UFC and Facebook’s parent company Meta have officially announced a partnership that will bring UFC and MMA events to the Metaverse in virtual reality.
Speculation abounded when UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Yan on October 1st was closed to the press and public. In the end, a small handful of Meta employees including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan were on hand to see Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan battle it out for five rounds in the UFC APEX.
Many were critical of the decision by the UFC to seal the event off to cater to the billionaire businessman and his friends. But it’s now apparent that the private viewing was part of a process to finalize the deal that Meta and UFC announced via a press release today.
Through their partnership, UFC Fight Pass and Meta Horizon Worlds will begin offering live and on-demand replays of MMA events in virtual reality. The first event to be broadcast in VR180 – a 180-degree panoramic view – will be this Friday October 14th’s LFA 144 event from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
There’s no word yet on when we can expect our first proper UFC event, but the news release promises that more VR broadcasts will be announced soon. Which probably means once they iron out all the kinks porting MMA into virtual reality.
I think Mark Zuckerberg is ready for a shot on the Contender Series 👀 pic.twitter.com/26QMFmoLZB
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) September 3, 2022
Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed himself to be a big fan of MMA and the UFC on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience. ‘Zuck’ doesn’t just watch the fights, he also trains Brazilian jiu-jitsu and striking as well. A clip of the Meta leader showing off his stand-up skills was praised by a who’s who of UFC stars including Conor McGregor, Sean O’Malley, Alexander Volkanovski, and Cody Garbrandt. We’re sure the UFC didn’t ask them to butter up the billionaire at all!
There’s no doubt that teaming up with Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Oculus, and more) is a very smart move for the UFC. It’s easy to forget that just fifteen years ago that MMA was still fighting to be recognized as a legitimate sport. Now it has an opportunity to team up with one of the biggest companies in the world to get a foothold in the growing virtual reality Metaverse. While VR still has a ways to go before gaining wider acceptance, the UFC learned with Twitter what early adoption of a new tech platform can do for its reach.
To watch LFA 144 and future MMA events, fans will need a compatible Meta Quest headset, a copy of Meta’s Horizon Worlds app, and (we assume) a UFC Fight Pass subscription. Stay tuned for our review on how MMA translates into virtual reality.
Excited for the UFC’s entry into the world of virtual reality, PENN Nation? Let us know what you think of this big partnership between Meta and the UFC in the comments!