This year has been a wild ride for fans of mixed martial arts and combat sports in general. As 2018 came to an end, so did the UFC’s seven-year partnership with FOX. The promotion opted to join forces with ESPN in a move that has drastically changed the way that MMA content is delivered to fans in the United States.
The UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw event on January 19 marked the first to be aired exclusively on ESPN’s digital streaming service, ESPN+. The transition proved to be successful, with more than 568,000 fans subscribing to ESPN+ on the weekend of the event alone. For $4.99 per month, fans can stream non-PPV fight cards and access the fight library on ESPN+, alongside other major sports.
The most significant of changes made this year, however, was the UFC’s decision to move on from the traditional pay-per-view model and make PPV events available exclusively via ESPN+ for $59.99. The price compares favorably to $64.99 days of old, yet fans are now required to own an ESPN+ subscription before first having the ability to watch a PPV event.
Current estimates indicate that ESPN+ has more than 2 million subscribers, and you can be sure that many of those existing subscribers (and more to come) will be smashing the “Buy Now” button when UFC 238 and UFC 239 come around in the weeks to come.
June 8’s UFC 238 event may just be the strongest of all PPV fight cards to hit the ESPN+ digital streaming network so far.
Topped with a duo of title fights, UFC 238 will see Henry Cejudo move up to challenge Marlon Moraes for the UFC Bantamweight Championship after he knocked out TJ Dillashaw in January. The co-main event features Valentina Shevchenko, who looks to defend her UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship for the first time.
Oftentimes we’ll find that the promotion decides to stack the top of a fight card with major fights only to fill the remaining slots with rather meaningless ones (see UFC 236 and UFC 237). On this occasion, however, the lightweight clash between Tony Ferguson vs. Donald Cerrone may be worth the $59.99 alone. Add in the always-exciting Petr Yan, who is set to face Jimmie Rivera in a bantamweight bout, and we’re now looking at one of the most exciting fight cards of 2019 so far.
On Saturday, July 7, UFC 239 hits Las Vegas, Nevada, with another Jon Jones PPV.
The light heavyweight champion is set to fight for the third time since December when he meets Thiago Santos in a title fight. Jones earned a unanimous decision victory over Anthony Smith in his last fight to retain his title.
Before Jones vs. Santos, Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm will go head-to-head in a UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship fight. Nunes cemented her position as a true great of the sport by defeating Cris Cyborg in the first round of their featherweight title fight in December. For Holm, it’s her chance to make it two in a row after she defeated Megan Anderson in June last year.
Also on the card, Ben Askren plans to make it two in a row with the UFC when he meets Jorge Masvidal in a welterweight bout. Before then, Jan Blachowicz will welcome former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold to the light heavyweight division.
With a pair of incredibly exciting UFC pay-per-view events just around the corner, now sure seems like the time to subscribe to ESPN+ if you’re yet to do so already.