Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, has struck a partnership with Meta, the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram, to produce events in virtual reality (VR) and broadcast them via its Fight Pass streaming platform.
Under the deal, live and on-demand MMA events will be available to watch in VR via Meta’s Horizon Worlds app, a virtual reality world accessible using the Meta Quest 2 headset, which will allow users to see and speak to other fans in real time while watching VR views of the fights.
The partnership starts with tonight’s (October 14) Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) 144 event featuring a bantamweight world title bout between Muin Gafurov and Diego Silva. The entire main card will also be streamed live as a traditional broadcast on Fight Pass.
VR technology company YBVR is producing LFA 144 in VR180, a VR video format that will give viewers a 180-degree panorama of the event.
Crowley Sullivan, vice president and general manager of UFC Fight Pass, said: “We are excited to offer an unprecedented level of engagement for Fight pass subscribers and MMA fans around the world by producing a live MMA event in VR.
“With Meta providing the VR platform and YBVR lending their production expertise, we’re confident this will be a great experience for fight fans.”
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UFC has said it plans to offer similar VR experiences around selected combat sports events in the future on Fight Pass.
The announcement comes just days after Meta announced their new Meta Quest Pro headset, which it calls “the first in a new line of advanced headsets built to expand the possibilities of virtual and mixed reality.” The new headset will retail at $1,499.
UFC has recently struck partnerships with technology companies as it looks to modernize its offering and create more commercial opportunities for the sport.
In August, UFC created a pilot program through which branding will be incorporated digitally into its TV coverage in Latin America through a tie-up with live video monetization platform 4D Sight.
Under that deal, the promotion has placed the logo of Stake.com, the crypto casino and sports betting platform which is the championship’s betting partner in that region (as well as Asia), onto a prominent position inside the UFC Fighting Cage during broadcasts.
In March, the promotion introduced a new LED system around the outer circumference of its Octagon fighting cage, called UFC Fight Deck, which displays sponsor brands and messages to in-arena fans and television viewers.
Last month, meanwhile, UFC entered into a global partnership with group messaging and social network app IRL as a way of connecting its stars with fans around the world.
Elsewhere, UFC has announced US-based injury law firm Morgan & Morgan as its latest sponsor.
Under the multi-year deal, Morgan & Morgan become the promotion’s first legal industry sponsor and will receive brand visibility inside the UFC octagon, as well as across the promotion’s broadcast assets for pay-per-view events and lower-tier Fight Nights.
The deal also includes collaboration on original digital content designed to tap into the MMA promotion’s combined social media audience of around 200 million followers.
An annual brand ambassador fund has also been established to offer paid marketing opportunities for UFC fighters.
Paul Asencio, UFC senior vice president of global partnerships, said: “We’re thrilled to build upon our relationship with Morgan & Morgan and welcome them as UFC’s first official law firm partner.
“Like UFC, fighting is in their DNA, and we share common brand values, like perseverance, excellence, and determination. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the coming years.”
The deal builds on the firm’s previous agreement with the Endeavor-owned company back in March when it became the legal category sponsor for the ‘Fight Night’ card in Ohio headlined by Curtis Blaydes versus Chris Daukaus.
John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan, said: “As America’s largest injury law firm, we are excited to expand our partnership and become the official law firm partner of UFC.
“UFC and Morgan & Morgan both thrive on a good fight and have revolutionized our industries. Every day in courtrooms across the country, our army of over 800 attorneys go head-to-head with powerful corporations and win. We cannot wait to engage with the ever-growing UFC fanbase.”
Image: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images