After a fast a furious start to their partnership that kicked off with UFC Brooklyn in late January, ESPN is going all in with the UFC.
UFC 236 will go down on April 13 and it will be the beginning of a new format for the UFC pay-per-view distribution model as Monday the company announced that pay-per-view events will now be exclusive to the ESPN+ subscription service in the US.
Meaning that the only way to now order and watch numbered UFC events will be through the ESPN+ app. Which, in the end, means that all live UFC fights will be shown under the ESPN umbrella.
In addition to this news, ESPN also extended their contract with the UFC tacking on two more years thus running the deal through 2025. This equals out to ten more main cards that will be on ESPN’s television network with the other 20 on ESPN+.
As for UFC Fight Pass, it will no longer be airing any live UFC events as early on in the ESPN deal they have still been showing the early prelims. Those will now be switched over to ESPN+ as well.
“With the addition of UFC PPV events, we are making ESPN+ an absolute must-have for any fan of the UFC and mixed martial arts,” said Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Direct-to-Consumer & International, The Walt Disney Company (via press release). “In less than a year, ESPN+ has established itself as the leader in direct-to-consumer sports and this new programming agreement adds a significant business to our platform while reinforcing the value and strength of our product and our content lineup.”
As far as the kickoff event, UFC 236 is a pretty good card to get the ball rolling with the extended deal as two new interim champions will be crowned when current featherweight champion Max Holloway faces Dustin Poirier in a rematch while Kelvin Gastelum takes on Israel Adesanya.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/18/2019