ESPN will become the exclusive home to the UFC in 2019 but don’t expect the events to look that much different from what currently airs on FOX.
ESPN will pay the UFC approximately $300 million per year for 30 live UFC Fight Night events as well as 12 pay-per-view preliminary cards but the Disney owned company will not be in charge of production.
UFC president Dana White revealed in a conversation with ESPN on Wednesday that the company will still produce all of their own events just like they do on FOX currently.
“The fans are happy with the way our show is presented, and the networks are too, which is why we get these deals done,” White said. “Our production is incredible, we do an amazing job and we’ll continue to.”
It’s a bit surprising considering rumors had swirled that part of the negotiation to bring the UFC to a new network was handing over production control.
White and former owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta were adamant about maintaining control of production over UFC shows and kept that in line when signing the seven year deal with FOX back in 2011.
ESPN typically produces all of the sports programming on their network but it appears that won’t be the case when the UFC comes there in 2019.
That means the look and feel of the UFC cards will be seamless from FOX to ESPN and it’s likely there won’t be much different when it comes to the broadcast teams either.
As of now there’s still no official word on additional UFC programming on ESPN such as a show similar to “UFC Tonight”, which currently airs on FS1. There will be pre and post fight shows that will air on ESPN or ESPN+ starting with the deal in 2019.