NO MATTER if you’re a diehard UFC fan or just a casual viewer, figuring out how to watch the UFC for any specific event can be confusing. But there’s good news: Since the UFC’s sale to ESPN in 2019, the premier mixed martial arts organization has streamlined its events and content to a few select areas, and once you break them down, it’s not hard to start figuring out how to watch the best UFC fights online. So if you’re looking to watch upcoming fights, past fights, or even some of UFC’s award-winning original content, our guide to accessing all the UFC has to offer will get you there fast.
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Watch UFC Fight Nights for Free on ESPN+
ESPN holds exclusive streaming rights to Fight Night events via its streaming app, ESPN+. If you pay for an ESPN+ subscription, then you will typically be able to view UFC Fight Nights for free as part of your service. The UFC’s rights also extend to some of the league’s original programming, like its prospects series, called Dana White’s Contender Series. As far as subscription streaming services go, ESPN+ incredibly affordable when you bundle it with The Disney Bundle. This is a subscription service that gives you access to ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu for $13.99. You can also choose to upgrade your The Disney Bundle and get Hulu with no ads, which would bring the monthly total to $19.99 per month.
It’s also worth mentioning you can pay for ESPN+ on its own for a monthly or annual plan. Recently, ESPN+ announced it was going to raise its prices to $9.99 per month and $99.99 annually. If you’re looking just for sports content and UFC, then this is still a good deal, as an ESPN+ subscription will open up viewing opportunities for variety of other live sports events including the NFL, Major League Soccer (MLS), MLB, NBA, NHL, and a host of other pro- and collegiate-level contests.
Once your credit card info is in (sorry, no free trial), you can access programming from your mobile device via the ESPN+ app, as well as on your smart TV and other connected devices, including Apple, Android, and Amazon Fire devices, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Oculus Go.
Watch UFC Championship Fights on ESPN+
Championship fights are big-ticket events, and like MMA’s predecessor of boxing, they’re pay-per-view only. If you’re a cable subscriber, including DirectTV, you can sometimes order your fight directly through your provider (and oftentimes with a couple of taps of your finger on your remote). If you’re an ESPN+ member, simply log in to your account and pony up.
Pay-per-view one-time fees through ESPN+ for members are currently $75, though this fee has been raised several times since the Worldwide Sports Leader took over three years ago. If you’re a first time subscriber to ESPN+, we recommend waiting until a UFC PPV fight is coming up, as ESPN sometimes offers a promo deal where buying an annual subscription gets you the UFC fight for free.
How to Watch UFC Prelim Fights
Preliminary fights (also called prelims) are typically the easiest to watch. Most of the time, prelims are aired live on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN+. The UFC does this to help build up hype for upcoming PPV bouts (that air right after the prelims) and attract viewers to buy the PPV. Two popular streaming services that will give you the channels that usually cover UFC prelims are fuboTV and Sling.
How to Watch Past UFC Fights
While ESPN+ is still king when it comes to live events, there’s a couple of different ways to watch past UFC fights, including championships.
The first (and cheapest) is through the UFC’s official YouTube channel. The organization has developed a wholistic means of piquing fan interest in upcoming fights, including fighter highlight reels, behind-the-scenes training mini-documentaries, and even uncut past fights deemed significant to future events. It’s also the home of such original programming as the Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight series, which has been around since 2015 and is now in its sixth season. Of course, this content is at the whim of the UFC itself, and just because a fight is online one day doesn’t guarantee it will be on the next. The UFC will often pull fights just as fast after the upcoming events have concluded (see: just about every Conor McGregor fight).
Therefore, for the core fan (or the fan wanting to be core), there’s no substitute for UFC Fight Pass. This stand-alone app, independent from ESPN+, contains the archives of the organization itself. For $10 a month or a $96 annual fee, users can stream individual fights and events, including championship bouts, on demand. It also opens access to the UFC’s new original programming, including shows Year of the Fighter, Fightlore, and more.
The Best Ways to Watch UFC Fights Online
We all know someone that likes to stream UFC PPV events illegally. Don’t be that guy. For starters, it’s not safe, as digging for illegal streams can open you up to all sorts of scams, data stealing, and even identity theft. Second, streaming UFC fights illegally won’t give you the best picture quality on your device or TV. And lastly, while some think illegal streaming is a victimless crime, the act is still technically a felony, which can open you up to all sorts of issues if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Read more: How to Watch UFC 277 Online
The best way to watch UFC fights online is to stick to the platforms mentioned above. ESPN+ will get you the biggest and baddest fights on PPV, with no interruptions and excellent picture quality. And if you’re worried about the cost, start a watch party and invite your friends over. Even if you invite four friends over, you can split the cost of a $75 PPV fight for $15 per person. And that’s well worth a full night of entertainment!
Gear and Commerce Editor
John Thompson is the Gear and Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology.
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