As of January, the UFC will start its five-year partnership with ESPN, the most popular mainstream sports network.
Seeing how far the UFC has come from its days with Spike TV, it says a lot on the sport and the company itself. Going from Spike to FX, then Fox, was a huge deal for the UFC. They will now be able to provide UFC fans with fights on the best sports network, making the opportunities to be limitless.
So what does this mean for the sport in general and the UFC?
It means higher ratings, a whole new audience, and a bigger platform to be covered by shows like First Take and Sports Center. The UFC will also have access to some of the best sports journalists to ever cover the sport of MMA. People are still very unaware that MMA is still growing and with the UFC being the pinnacle of the sport, ESPN will bring it to new heights. Promotions outside of the UFC will continue to benefit as well, the more mainstream MMA becomes. We’ve seen a rise of other promotions this year and the first ever MMA trade in history. Because of this, promotions like the Professional Fighters League, Bellator, Invicta FC, and Legacy Fighting Alliance will benefit with more viewership.
This could also change how much fighters are making in the UFC.
It could mean more money for the fighters and larger fight night bonuses, although fighters like Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier will most likely only fight on PPV. However, you can expect over 20 fight cards next year, with the best fighters the UFC has to offer and a platform for new stars.
2019 will be one of the best years for both the UFC and MMA.