The BBC has agreed an innovative partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to offer coverage of mixed martial arts across its new online platforms.
The partnership begins immediately as UFC fighters arrive in London for UFC Fight Night Silva vs. Bisping, which takes place at The O2 arena on Saturday, February 27.
The event features nine British athletes, including the main event between Michael Bisping and Brazilian Anderson Silva, regarded as one of the best MMA athletes of all time.
Alongside its live and social media coverage, BBC Three will produce short films and content on mixed martial arts – one of the world’s fastest growing sports – and UFC athletes including Conor McGregor, Holy Holm, Ronda Rousey and Michael Bisping.
Damian Kavanagh, Controller, BBC Three, says: “BBC Three has a history of covering emerging sports that appeal to young audiences in new ways, and our coverage of UFC will be no different.
“We already offer sport on The Daily Drop and it’s right we cover one of the fastest growing, and most talked-about sports in the world, which has millions of fans in the UK, all in a BBC Three way.
“The deal is mutually beneficial and demonstrates how BBC Three can experiment with new types of content, from new partners, in new ways.
“Last year we made a documentary featuring MMA and offered live coverage of League of Legends from Wembley with both well received by younger audiences, so in the spirit of innovation, we welcomed the chance to work with the UFC.”
James Elliott, UFC EMEA General Manager and Vice President, says: “We are thrilled to be recognised as a valuable asset for BBC Three.
“Audiences across the UK & Ireland are becoming more and more knowledgeable about the skill, athleticism and ethics of MMA fighters and the great events and content produced by the UFC, which is driving fans to seek content from media outlets.
“BBC Three is a perfect fit for UFC and we look forward to an exciting year working together to bring great content to their audiences.”
In addition to the London event, on an ongoing basis, BBC Three will offer editorial coverage of UFC events within EMEA, with a possibility to cover international events.
In February 2016, BBC Three switched from being a linear TV channel to online only, as part of the corporation’s cost-cutting plans.
The new BBC Three deal does not affect BT Sport’s existing three-year deal to screen live coverage of UFC events to UK audiences, which runs out at the end of the year.