UFC 249 draws big PPV numbers

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ESPN’s live broadcast of the UFC resumption on May 9th drew in excess of 700,000 pay-per-view subscribers across the US via Disney’s OTT sports subscription service.
Originally scheduled to go ahead in New York on 18th April before being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, UFC 249 returned behind closed doors in Florida, with ESPN+ holding exclusive US PPV rights to the main fight card as part of its broadcast partnership with the Endeavor-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.

UFC President Dana White said that the event was “proof” that professional sports could return amid the health crisis “under the right guidelines”. Brazilian heavyweight Jacare Souza testing positive for Covid-19 in the build-up to the event and was forced to drop out. Whilst the story created many negative headlines, it also served as proof that routine and rigid testing was in place.

Speaking to SBJ, Craig Borsari, the UFC’s EVP of operations and production, said: “It came off looking like it was a normal event, which is what our objective was. We weren’t going to shy away from any shots and had empty seats because that’s the situation that we’re in. But, at the same time, we wanted to present a product that looked as close to what we’ve done in the past as possible.”

The next UFC event will be held in Las Vegas on May 23rd.


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