Hey there! If you‘re an MMA fan like me, you may be wondering – can I actually watch UFC fights for free? Or will I have to pay for a expensive subscription?
Don‘t worry, I‘ve done the research and I‘m here to give you the full lowdown on the free and paid ways to watch UFC events. Keep reading and I‘ll break it all down for you!
The Short Answer – Is UFC Free?
The quick answer is yes, you can watch some UFC content for free on platforms like YouTube and social media. However, to access most live events and fights in full, you’ll need a paid subscription to ESPN+ or UFC pay-per-view.
Here‘s a quick overview of what‘s available for free vs. paid:
Free UFC Options
- Fight highlights & clips on YouTube
- Occasional free fight replays on social media
- 7-day free trial of UFC Fight Pass
- Limited local TV broadcasts
Paid UFC Options
- ESPN+ subscription ($9.99/month, $99.99/year)
- UFC Pay-Per-View events ($79.99 each)
So while you can find some UFC fights for free, a paid platform like ESPN+ or PPV is required to watch full events live.
Below I’ll explain all your options in more detail. But first, let‘s look at why UFC moved to paid subscriptions and away from free options.
Why Did UFC Move Away From Free Platforms?
In the past, UFC events were shown on free broadcast TV networks like Fox and Spike. So what changed?
There were a few key business reasons why UFC eventually transitioned to paid subscription platforms:
More Revenue: UFC makes way more money from subscriptions vs. ad revenue from free broadcasts. In 2021 alone, UFC raked in $945 million from ESPN/PPV fees.
Greater Creative Control: On paid networks like ESPN, UFC controls all production, programming, and distribution.
Better Experience for Fans: Paid streaming allows UFC to deliver high-quality broadcasts without TV network restrictions.
Fight Against Piracy: It‘s easier to shut down illegal free live streams when fights require a paid subscription.
So in summary, PPV and ESPN+ subscriptions bring in major cash for UFC while also allowing them to enhance the viewing experience for fans.
However, let’s now look at the ways you can still watch some UFC fights or events for free.
Watching UFC Fights For Free
While most UFC content requires a paid subscription, there are still a few limited ways to watch fights for free:
1. YouTube Highlights & Clips
UFC posts short highlight clips and fight recaps on their YouTube channel for free on demand.
For example, you can watch the full fight highlights of Calvin Kattar vs Giga Chikadze here. While this is just a 10-minute recap, not the full bout, it‘s a great way to see the most exciting moments for free.
UFC has over 15 million YouTube subscribers, and some highlight clips get over 1 million views each!
2. Free Fights on Social Media
Every so often, UFC will stream a recent fight replay for free on their social media pages. These are usually posted after the live event has concluded.
For instance, you can watch the incredible Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar fight in full here on Facebook. The 25-minute video has over 5.7 million views!
3. 7-Day UFC TV Free Trial
The UFC TV app offers a handy 7-day free trial of UFC Fight Pass for new users. This grants you access to:
- On-demand library of fight replays
- Live preliminary fights
- Original shows & series
- behind-the-scenes footage
The catch is that the free trial does NOT include Pay-Per-View events or most main Fight Night cards. Still, you can watch a ton of content free for 7 days before deciding if you want to pay $9.99/month for the full membership. Just be sure to cancel before your trial ends if you don’t want to be charged.
4. Limited Local Broadcasts
In very specific cases, UFC preliminary fights may air on local broadcast sports networks for free. For example:
- Past events on Big Ten Network (Midwest U.S.)
- Select Hawaii cards on FSW/Fox Sports West
- Boston-area prelims on Channel 5/WCVB
However, these are only for undercard bouts before the Main Card starts on ESPN/PPV. You’d still need the paid subscriptions to see headlining bouts with top fighters and titles on the line.
So while useful, rely on local broadcasts for only 1-2 hours of free UFC content. To watch full events, read on for paid options…
Watching UFC With ESPN+ or Pay-Per-View
To watch entire live UFC events including Main Cards, you’ll need access via:
- ESPN+ – $9.99/month or $99.99/year
- UFC Pay-Per-View – $79.99 per event
Here‘s what each paid platform provides:
An ESPN+ subscription offers:
Live Fight Night events – Exclusive coverage of 25+ Fight Nights per year showcasing top-ranked talent and contenders.
Prelim coverage – Live undercard bouts prior to major PPV events.
On-demand replays – Recent fight, original shows, and the entire UFC 30 for 30 library.
With ESPN+, you get loads of live events all year long (over 40 hours of fights per month), making it a fantastic deal for just $9.99 a month.
Pay-Per-View Big Events
For the biggest UFC events of the year like UFC 287, the Main Card is only available via pay-per-view.
These major PPV events are stacked with championship bouts, grudge matches, and the most elite MMA superstars.
PPV cards cost $79.99 each in the U.S. You can order through:
- Major cable/satellite TV providers
- UFC TV app
Crucially, you need an active ESPN+ account to purchase UFC PPV matches. So PPV is an added fee on top of your ESPN+ subscription.
Let’s now look at the price and package breakdown:
How Much Does UFC Cost? Pricing Breakdown
Here’s a full overview of current UFC pricing:
ESPN+: $9.99/month or $99.99/year
UFC PPV Events: $79.99 each
ESPN+ + PPV Bundle: $99.98 per PPV event
So an ESPN+ subscription alone gives you access to all the exclusive live Fight Nights and prelims. For the big PPV events, you’ll pay both the ESPN+ fee and the $79.99 PPV cost.
However, there is a discount if you bundle ESPN+ with PPV purchases. You can get one UFC PPV event along with an annual ESPN+ membership for $99.98 total. This averages out to around $8/month for a full year.
For the biggest UFC fans, the annual ESPN+/PPV bundle is the way to go. You’ll save over 25% compared to paying monthly.
Now let’s look at some tips to watch UFC at the lowest cost.
Getting UFC for Free or Cheap – Tips & Tricks
If you want UFC access on a budget, here are some clever ways to save:
YouTube – Watch free highlights and clips so you miss nothing from the big events.
UFC TV Free Trial – Test drive the app for a full week before paying.
Annual ESPN+ – Get a 25% discount by paying $99.99 upfront yearly.
Disney+/Hulu Bundle – Get ESPN+ and other streaming video bundles starting at just $12.99/month total.
Split PPV Fees – Go in with friends on a PPV event and divide up the $79.99 cost.
Watch at a Bar – Head to a local spot screening the PPV fight and just pay for food/drinks.
Free Streams – While tempting, stay away! Illegal streams are risky, poor quality and unethical.
As you can see, with a little creativity, you can gain access to all the live UFC action without breaking the bank. Personally, I use the YouTube clips plus an annual ESPN+ subscription. This lets me watch all the Fight Nights while saving over 25% annually.
I also occasionally split bigger PPV costs with my buddies for the mega-events like UFC 287. That way we each only pay around $25-30 to see the huge championship fights in crystal clear HD.
There are deals if you hunt for them! Now let‘s recap everything we‘ve covered…
The Bottom Line – Is UFC Free?
In closing, can you watch UFC fights for free? Yes, but only some preliminary bouts, highlights, and occasional replays. To access most live UFC events in full, a paid ESPN+ or PPV subscription is required.
While costs have risen, ESPN+ remains reasonably priced, especially if you pay annually. Official platforms like ESPN+ and UFC TV provide a vastly superior viewing experience compared to sketchy free live streams.
Personally, I think paying a small monthly fee is worthwhile to enjoy all the thrills of MMA fights with reliable quality. Luckily there are enough limited free options that budget-conscious fans can still get their UFC fix!
Hope this breakdown helps explain all your UFC viewing options. Now you can weigh the pros and cons and decide which platforms fit your fandom and budget.
Let me know if you have any other questions! Enjoy the fights 🥊