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UFC and ESPN have $1.5-billion deal in place starting in January

UFC and ESPN have $1.5-billion deal in place starting in January
Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world, opens a UFC weigh-in Friday, (Stephan Savoia / Associated Press)

UFC and ESPN completed their bond beyond the one announced earlier this month on Wednesday, bringing all non-pay-per-view fights to the cable giant and its streaming arm, ESPN+, in a reported $1.5-billion, five-year arrangement.

The partnership, which will launch in January following UFC’s expiring deal with Fox, will feature 30 “Fight Night” cards, plus 12 other live events annually.

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ESPN will broadcast 10 exclusive events with 12-bout cards while also providing preliminary coverage of UFC pay-per-view shows.

“ESPN’s unparalleled multimedia platform is the perfect home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties,” Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks, said in the joint announcement. “UFC fans are passionate and loyal and we plan to bring the full power of ESPN’s live coverage, powerful storytelling and unmatched distribution to serve them in an unprecedented fashion.”

The alignment allows UFC ownership WME/IMG of Beverly Hills to recoup some of the $4 billion it spent in purchasing the UFC two years ago.

UFC President Dana White called the deal, reported to be $300 million annually for five years, as “a monumental day for UFC, our athletes and our fans. We are now part of the ESPN family.”

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