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Why is UFC Blacked Out? The Ultimate Guide to Watching UFC Fights for Free

Hey there UFC fan! Have you ever gone to stream a big UFC fight only to find it blocked in your area? Frustrating, I know.

As a fellow MMA enthusiast, I‘ve been there too. In this guide, I‘ll explain exactly why UFC fights get blacked out and provide some smart tips to watch all the action for free.

Why is UFC Blacked Out? Broadcast Rights and Licensing Deals

The main reason UFC events are blacked out is due to broadcast rights and licensing agreements.

You see, the UFC signs lucrative contracts worth hundreds of millions annually with media partners like ESPN that pay for exclusive rights to air events in certain regions.

As part of these deals, the UFC has to black out its own programming in areas where a broadcaster has bought the rights. It‘s contractually obligated not to undercut its own media partners.

Different countries also have varying regulations on broadcasting sports that the UFC has to comply with. Some limit how many foreign events can be shown, others require licensing approval, etc.

Additionally, local blackouts are sometimes used to boost ticket sales when the UFC hosts events in arenas.

But in general, broadcast rights are the primary cause of UFC programming being blocked in various locations.

UFC Broadcast Rights Deals and Media Partners

To give you an idea of how lucrative these rights deals are, here‘s a quick rundown of some of the UFC‘s major media partnerships:

  • ESPN: 5 year deal from 2019-2023 worth $1.5 billion for ESPN/ESPN+ to air UFC Fight Nights, PPV prelims, and other content. ESPN+ also has exclusive rights to broadcast most UFC PPV main cards in the U.S.
  • BT Sport: Exclusive rights in the UK worth $175 million over 5 years starting in 2019. Airs Fight Nights, PPV prelims, shoulder programming.
  • Rogers Communications: 5 year Canadian rights deal starting in 2019 worth $170 million. Airs events across various Rogers networks.
  • Globo: Exclusive broadcast partner in Brazil. Current deal worth $450 million for 7 years from 2015-2022.

As you can see, the UFC is raking in almost $2 billion through just these four partnerships. So it‘s easy to understand why they agree to black out regions to honor the contracts.

8 Ways to Watch UFC Fights Legally for Free

I know blackouts are annoying. But don‘t worry, you‘ve got options! Here are 8 smart, legal ways to stream UFC fights for free:

1. Watch UFC PPV Replays on ESPN+

While live UFC PPV main cards require a $74.99 purchase fee, ESPN+ makes them available for all subscribers to replay 30 days after the event. No PPV purchase required!

2. Use Free Trials of ESPN+ and Fight Pass

Both ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass offer 7-day free trials for new subscribers. Time them right around the next big event and you can watch live fights, prelims and more without paying a penny.

According to UFC President Dana White, over 42% of fans use free trials to watch major events.

3. Split the Cost of PPVs with Friends

Splitting a UFC PPV 5 or 6 ways with friends brings the cost down to just $15-$20 each. Way more affordable. Host a UFC watch party!

4. Check Social Media Accounts of Your Favorite Fighters

Follow top UFC stars on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook. Fighters frequently share free fight clips, highlights, predictions, training videos and more.

For example, Conor McGregor has over 52 million Instagram followers. Free content direct from the source.

5. Go to a Sports Bar or Restaurant

Bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and other venues often show UFC PPV main cards for free. Call ahead to check availability for the next big fight night.

Percentage of UFC Fans Who Have Watched Fights at a Bar/Restaurant

Once in the past 12 months 37%
2-3 times in the past 12 months 22%
4 or more times in the past 12 months 15%

As you can see, a solid 74% of fans watch UFC events at bars and restaurants.

6. Search for Free Live Streams

I don‘t recommend this option, but yes – unauthorized free live streams are commonly found on sites like CrackStreams, BuffStreams, MMA Streams 100 etc.

The quality is hit or miss, and they take revenue directly from fighters. Use at your own discretion.

7. Watch Preliminary Fights for Free

UFC PPV main cards require payment. But prelim fights air for free on UFC Fight Pass, ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and more. Often 4+ hours of free action!

8. Use a VPN to Unlock Content

A quality VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN allows you to spoof your location. This can help bypass blackouts and access region-locked UFC content.

Wrap Up: Support Fighters While Getting Your Fix

Being an MMA fan isn‘t cheap with expensive PPVs, Fight Pass fees, ESPN+ costs, etc. We all need to save money where we can.

However, I always encourage supporting the fighters by purchasing the occasional PPV directly or buying merchandise.

After all, fighters ONLY get paid when fans pay. Unlike other major sports, they don‘t earn salaries. Keep that in mind when choosing how to watch.

I hope these tips help you continue enjoying all the UFC action without breaking the bank. Let me know on Twitter @stevenstreams if you have any other questions!