UFC Event Formats
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is based in the US and abides by the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. The promotion organizes fighting events all over the world that attract millions of viewers and an increasing number of online punters. Rules and event formats have evolved throughout the years and currently, the UFC conducts two types of fighting shows – Numbered UFC Events and UFC Fight Nights. The first feature high-profile bouts only, including championship fights broadcasted in a pay-per-view format. UFC Fight Nights on the other hand can be currently watched after paying a monthly fee through the ESPN+ network covering battles between lower-ranked fighters.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the two formats of UFC events with their positives and characteristic differences.
Numbered UFC Events (PPV)
It is some kind of tradition for numbered UFC events to be headlined by a championship fight, sometimes two of them are included on the same card. For now, only five UFC PPV events have included three championship battles:
The highest-grossing MMA event of all time is UFC 229 with total revenue of above $120 million. We will not surprise anybody who has even minimal knowledge of mixed martial arts by saying that one of the participants in the heading fight was Conor McGregor, a figure that has shown the world how successful MMA can be in terms of profit. His rival in 2018 was Khabib Nurmagomedov, the longest-reigning UFC Lightweight Champion. The much-anticipated fight was won by Khabib with submission due to a neck crank.
Back through the years UFC fighting events have been broadcasted by several companies including ABC, Fox, Fuel TV, Spike, Versus, and others. However, in 2019 the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that as a part of their major contract with ESPN, all subsequent PPV matches would be available for sale only to the registered users of the network’s streaming service ESPN+. The deal in question covers the US media market.
UFC Fight Pass
UFC Fight Pass is a very good option for diehard MMA enthusiasts as it is bursting at the seams with historical content for a reasonable price. The library comprises thousands of past events, not only by the UFC but also from PRIDE FC, WEC, Strikeforce, Affliction, Invicta FC, King of the Cage, etc. Users can also watch behind-the-scenes shows, documentaries, storytelling, and others. As regards UFC PPV events, only Early Prelims are available for live streaming.
UFC Fight Nights
Although UFC Fight Nights are referred to as the lower-tier part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, they should not be depreciated, because they often involve exciting battles between very talented, though not so famous fighters. Fight Nights have established themselves as a fundamental event, useful for building the name of a fighter, both in terms of fans and the management body of the promotional company. Participating in Fight Nights gives inexperienced fighters time to build confidence. The UFC marketing team monitors how combatants’ personalities are perceived by the audience, and at the right time pulls out a fighter they think will fit into a PPV show.
Initially, UFC Fight Nights were broadcasted by Spike, then passed through FX and Fox Sports before ending up in ESPN as part of the above-mentioned major deal. In the eyes of many MMA fans, Fight Nights resemble a reality show that kicks off the career of future UFC superstars. And as we all know, there is a huge interest in reality shows worldwide with UFC Fight Nights making no exception.
How UFC Fighters Get Paid
The starting point is each fighter’s contract which determines a fixed amount per battle for a certain number of matches for a particular period of time. In the past, this was the main source of income but things have dramatically changed over the last decade.
As regards nowadays UFC matches, fighters can benefit from several lucrative bonuses (UFC Bonus Awards). Fight of the Night bonus is awarded to the two fighters who have participated in the most attractive battle on the card. There are no fixed criteria, bonus holders are informally determined and announced during the post-event press conference. On March 26, 2022, the UFC held its first complete post-pandemic event where each of Matt Brown and Bryan Barberena earned a $50,000 bonus for the impressive spectacle that delighted the action-hungry audience. Performance of the Night bonus was introduced in 2014 to replace the previously existing Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night awards. The bonus amount is again $50,000.
Top-tier fighters have huge follower bases across social networks and this makes them particularly suitable for a wide variety of brands that offer them enticing advertising contracts. Some fighters are so successful in this relation that their off-octagon income far surpasses the amounts coming from regular paychecks. The higher the popularity of the combatant, the greater these amounts become, and very often titles won in the last year do not matter. You didn’t think McGregor wouldn’t show up again in our article on UFC betting, did you? His business acumen puts him in the lead in terms of money earned during 2021, although he lost from Dustin Poirier two times, on January 24th (UFC 257) and July 11th (UFC 264).