UFC 267 was truly special! Two title fights, a stacked card, and it was free to US ESPN+ subscribers. The UFC outdid itself with these fights. Absolutely amazing we got this reward for being fans of this sport. They definitely didn’t need to do it, but they did and it was great. This was the first free numbered event the UFC had put on since UFC 138: Leben vs. Muñoz all the way back in November of 2011. This makes one think about if the UFC should put on more free cards especially cards with title fights with the hopes of exposing more top level fighters to the masses?
One argument for more free cards is Exposure. The UFC has a major deal with ESPN and broadcasting a free numbered card once a year would be awesome especially with the idea of title fights being on the card. One Card I definitely thought could have been free was August’s UFC 265: Lewis vs. Gane. This would have been an awesome card to give to subscribers for free. As it was an interim title fight it would’ve peaked interest in the Unification bout with current Champion Francis Ngannou with ultimately an opportunity to sell more PPV’s as Ciryl Gane is a relatively unknown fighter who’s only been fighting MMA for three years.
MMA is a new sport most baby boomers don’t even know exists. There’s no Mickey Mantle or Carl Yazstremski for them in MMA that they grew up with. They may know some Martial arts practitioners like Bruce Lee are and they may know who Conor McGregor is because his face was everywhere after his boxing debut against Floyd Maywether. It’d be great to get that older generation into the sport by showing more amazing title fights for free, because live MMA is something else it hits differently.
The answer is truly complicated as the fight game is not a game. It’s a business, and fighters need to get paid and The UFC and Zuffa need to take their cut. One of the hot button issues with MMA is fighter pay. The fighters who stay active make a lot of money, and the UFC knows this and they need to take its cut. This is why they started off on the PPV model, and how they have stayed relevant with these amazing cards that they have put on with some of the best fighters in the world. It is important to make money but a nice treat for fans to get exposure to some of these higher profile fights.
UFC 267 was a gift from the fight gods, we got to see some amazing performances from these fighters. Hopefully it won’t be another 10 years before the UFC offers another free numbered event as it would definitely bring more exposure to these amazing fighters that we all know and love.
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