New UFC Deal Means Bigger Audience And Free Broadcasts In The UK

The UFC’s expansion in to the global market really kicked up a gear at the end of 2013; the worlds biggest MMA promotion not only announced the launch of UFC ‘Fight Pass’, but also the intention and plans of exporting ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ to Eastern lands, and also more stacked events across the world.

As well as plans for Asia, it seems the UFC is focusing a lot of it’s marketing and broadcasting on Europe. Saturday’s UFC Fight Night London is a prime example of how the organization will adapt it’s model going forward. As well as the ‘Fight Pass’ stream, and BT Sports, Gustafsson vs. Manuwa will be aired free on channel 5.

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C5 is the equivalent of a network station in the USA, and is scheduled to air six events this year. The stream will be identical to that of BT Sports, just with different commentary teams. Fight Night London has already reportedly sold 14,000 tickets, and the home viewing audience could well be in to the millions now.

Airing the show on free TV is a very smart move by the typically savvy UFC brass. Not only does it widen the audience for the show, but it promotes future events and gives an ease of access to the more casual MMA fans. The station will also air to countries across Europe and the Middle East.

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With the sport of boxing dying a slow, and rather un-entertaining death in Europe, the UFC and MMA as a whole has a great chance to capitalize on the combat sports market. The boost in exposure will hopefully bring up some more new talent from Europe to fight in the promotion.

Brazil has Anderson/Wanderlei Silva, the Nogueira bros. And Jose Aldo. The US has Chael Sonnen (LOL), and countless others. The UK has Michael Bisping, Conor McGregor, Ross Pearson but not too many other big names; perhaps this new deal will be beneficial to everyone involved.

As a fan I’m very happy to learn that the UFC is airing free TV events, if only because I’ll be able to coax more friends in to watching. As much as I love MMA, I always used to dread their visits to the UK. The events seemed very watered down, and almost unnecessary. The fight between Gus and Manuwa on Saturday is possibly the first ever title-affecting bout to take place on British soil, and I hope the trend continues.