The Ultimate Fighting Championship, recognised the world over simply as UFC, is the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in the world. Currently, it boasts the majority of the world’s top-rated fighters and attracts global audiences and revenue through online and TV broadcasts measuring in the millions.
Its fights are watched by fans across all time zones and its combined viewership only increases with each passing event. Legal broadcasts are available via PPV and official UFC TV / UFC Fight Pass online streams. Due to regional licensing agreements, however, residents of some countries aren’t able to watch streams on the UFC website, and are limited to having to purchase an often much more expensive cable or satellite TV package just to gain legal access to events. This guide explains how to watch fights on UFC TV from any location with the help of VPN or Smart DNS. And on top of this, we’ll take a closer look at the history of the UFC and all of the unmissable, upcoming bouts!
A brief history of UFC
During its conception in the early 1990s, UFC was inspired by an action video-series produced by the Gracie family of Brazil, in which Jiu-Jitsu students competed against one another, as well as martial arts professionals of different disciplines, including karate, kung fu, and kick-boxing.
November 12, 1993 witnessed the first ever UFC event, which took place in Denver, Colorado. The purpose of the debut was to determine the best martial art by pitching fighters of different disciplines against one another. This included Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling, Sambo, Muay Thai, Judo, Karate, and many other styles. Competitors in subsequent events began to incorporate multiple fighting styles, which led to the creation of the MMA category.
During its early development, UFC adopted the tagline “There are no rules!” However, competitors were required to follow a set of rudimentary rules, including no eye-gouging or biting. Headbutting, hair-pulling, groin hits, and fish-hooking (inserting fingers into the mouth or nostrils and pulling away) were all disapproved of, though they were not banned entirely. Due to allowances such as these, UFC quickly developed a reputation for being violent and its broadcasts usually included a disclaimer before fighting began.
During the late 90s the sport attracted increasing criticism from the US authorities because of its violent nature. US senator John McCain strongly opposed the Championship and sought to ban what he publicly called “human cockfighting”. Thirty six states banned “no-hold-barred” fighting as a direct result of McCain’s campaigning.
In response, UFC continued organising events in those states where it was still legal, and began to work closely with state athletic organizations to develop stricter rules, and to remove its more violent elements. This led to the introduction of weight classes, the banning of fish-hooking, and numerous rules to protect fighters. For example, in the UFC 14 event, gloves were introduced as standard and the kicking of opponents when they were down was banned, as well as several other violent fighting moves.
In the early 2000’s UFC surged in popularity thanks to these more standardized rules, and because of the increased visibility the competition received with plenty of interest from large TV and online broadcasters. During this time, its pay-per-view (PPV) audience increased massively, in some cases drawing between 300,000 and 1 million for a single fight. In 2006, UFC surpassed both WWE and boxing in terms of PPV revenue by generating a remarkable $222,766,000.
A year before, UFC had begun broadcasts on Spike TV alongside the wrestling show WWE Raw, though later, in 2011, it began broadcasting on Fox alongside its popular PPV online service. As well as broadcasts, UFC also attracted the attention of gambling companies, including BodogLife.com, an online gambling site.
Also during this period, rival martial arts programme were bought out by UFC, including World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), Pride’s Japanese MMA contingent, EliteXC, which is also MMA, and Strikeforce (wrestling). In many cases, this also meant that UFC acquired fighters from these promotions, which of course bolstered its growth.
UFC has 9 weight divisions, from the lightest, straw-weight (up to 115 lbs), right through to heavyweight (205-265 lbs). Fighters abide by the United Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, the de facto rules for MMA in the United States. Although the organization is based in the States, it hosts events the world over and to date there have been over 300 events. For those unfamiliar with the stage set-up, fighters compete in what’s known as the Octagon, an eight-sided enclosure with metal chain-link walls covered with black vinyl.
Since the late 90s, UFC has grown exponentially, largely thanks to commercial investment from TV channels, including many mainstream media outlets. Today, the UFC is broadcast across the US, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. What’s more, UFC is available as a PPV subscription in the US, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and Italy.
Fights are broadcast in 150 other countries in 22 different languages with many dedicated channels. In the US, UFC is shown on Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, in the Caribbean on ESPN, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland on BT Sport. UFC organizers have recently set up an office in the UK with the intention of expanding its exposure within Europe.
Upcoming UFC events 2015-2016
- UFC Fight Night: Dustin Poirier (USA) vrs. Joseph Duffy – fight pass main card, October 24, 2015.
- UFC Fight Night: Vitor Belfort (Brazil) vrs. Dan Henderson – five round middleweight fight, November 7, 2015 (Fox Sports 1).
- UFC 193: Ronda Rousey (USA) vrs. Holly Holm (USA) – women’s bantamweight title fight, November 14, 2015 (live on pay-per-view).
- UFC Fight Night: Matt Brown (USA) vrs. Kelvin Gastelum (USA) – five round welterweight fight, November 21, 2015 (Fox Sports 1).
- UFC Fight Pass: Benson Henderson (USA) vrs. Thiago Alves (Brazil) – five round welterweight bout, November 28, 2015.
- UFC Fight Night: Paige VanZant (USA) vrs. Joanne Calderwood (Scotland) – women’s five round strawweight bout, December 10, 2015.
- The Ultimate Fighter Finale – Team McGregor vrs. Team Faber: Frankie Edgar (USA) vrs. Chad Mendes – main card, December 11, 2015 (Fox Sports 1).
- UFC 194: Jose Aldo (Brazil) vrs. Conor McGregor (Ireland) – featherweight title fight, December 12, 2015 (live on pay-per-view).
- UFC Fight Night: Rafael dos Anjos (Brazil) vrs. Donald Cerrone (USA) – lightweight title fight, December 19, 2015 (live on Fox).
- UFC 195: Robbie Lawler (USA) vrs. Carlos Condit (USA) – welterweight title fight, January 2, 2016 (live on pay-per-view).
Note, the numbers given after ‘UFC’ correspond to a specific UFC event, usually a title fight and always in the order in which they occur. For example, UFC1 was the first official UFC title fight to take place.
UFC TV, UFC Fight Pass & PPV
UFC TV is the subscription-based online streaming service for the vast majority of UFC fights, including prelims, title fights, UFC Fight Night, main cards, and many other fighting events from UFC’s extensive catalogue.
UFC Fight Pass
Fight Pass costs $9.99 a month and entitles users to live fights, overseas cards not aired in the US, and comprehensive access to the UFC TV video library, which includes events from WEC, Pride, and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Bear in mind, however, that subscribers will have to pay extra to watch the PPV events throughout the year (typically there are 13 such fights and these are often the numbered title fights).
The Fight Pass is compatible with a range of different devices, including iPod Touch, Blackberry, Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iPad, and iPhone. Fight pass subscribers are entitled to a 7-day free trail, which gives them unlimited access to fight pass content.
Pay-per-view fights are not included in the fight pass subscription at the time of airing. They must be purchased individually for those events marked as pay-per-view. A few months after airing, they become available as replays for fight pass holders.
UFC TV blackout restrictions
Fight pass and PPV are available in numerous countries, though many major events and late night prelim fights on UFC TV are subject to blackout restrictions in certain countries. Blackout restrictions refer to the non-airing of events to protect regional sports broadcasters from competition by “out-of-market” broadcasters including UFC TV. This results in regional broadcasts being blocked in markets outside of its own.
These restrictions apply to the U.S, Canada, UK, Brazil, Bolivia, Belize, Algeria, Australia Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, El Salvador, Venezuela, and India. For those living in these countries, the best way to stream UFC is to change your IP address using a VPN or Smart DNS. Blackout restrictions are not imposed in Mexico and various countries in Europe (e.g. France), so your IP address can be changed to a server running in one of those countries. Blackout restrictions are announced on the UFC website. Bear in mind that alongside a VPN, you will need a UFC TV subscription.
Bypassing blackout restrictions
Both VPN and Smart DNS can be used to bypass blackout restrictions on UFC TV. Both are excellent tools to get the most out of your subscriptions, though VPN encrypts all of your traffic, while Smart DNS does not offer any encryption or privacy protection, though it is generally faster since it doesn’t disrupt your connection. To read more about the differences between VPN and Smart DNS go here.
VPN and Smart DNS providers
1. PureVPN (VPN provider with Smart DNS add-on)
PureVPN is one of the largest VPN providers around with servers in more than 120 countries. The provider is a smart choice for overcoming UFC geo-restrictions as it has specifically optimized servers for UFC fans, as well as a UFC broadcaster list for streaming fights in different countries.
As well as the VPN service, Smart DNS is available as an optional add-on. Its VPN service can be connected to over PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. It operates on a huge range of platforms, including Android, Windows, OS X, iOS, and Linux, with bespoke applications available for all operating systems but Linux. The VPN can be used on up to five devices at the same time.
The PureVPN website has various tutorials demonstrating how to configure its client software and other PureVPN software. There are also a wide variety of additional features on offer, including Split Tunneling, an Internet Kill Switch if you lose your connection, Dedicated IPs (with NAT included), DDoS Protection, Automatic Protocol Selection, and Stealth VPN browser.
- Over 220 Smart DNS channels
- Smart DNS included in Windows VPN client
- Up to 5 simultaneous device connections
- Headquartered in Hong Kong (good for privacy)
- VPN subscription required to use Smart DNS add-on
2. OverPlay (VPN and Smart DNS)
OverPlay focuses mainly on Smart DNS, though it also runs a VPN service with a wide range of servers stretching across the globe, including Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Its VPN service uses the following encryption protocols: PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. For its Smart DNS subscription there are many channels on offer with servers in more than 21 countries. Smart DNS also includes an OverPlay application specifically for iOS devices.
OverPlay Smart DNS also comes with a unique feature called JetSwitch, which allows users to simultaneously unblock restricted channels through the account dashboard.
- One of the cheapest providers at $4.95 a month
- Offers Smart DNS app for iOS
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- Large VPN node network
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
3. ibVPN (VPN and Smart DNS)
ibVPN offers both Smart DNS (ibDNS) for streaming and VPN to protect your online privacy and to secure your streaming activities. Currently, ibVPN runs 95 VPN servers in almost 40 countries, as well as roughly 200 unblocked channels.
ibVPN also offers unlimited bandwidth and usage or traffic logs are not collected, so the privacy of your browsing will be protected. Another good feature is the ibVPN native app, through which users can easily adjust the level of security, as well as well as toggling between PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SSTP protocols.
- Large VPN server network
- Below market average tariffs
- Headquarters in Romania (good for privacy)
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Free trial on offer
- 15-day money-back guarantee
- Only one active connection allowed per account
4. ExpressVPN (VPN)
Although it doesn’t offer Smart DNS, ExpressVPN is well-known for its fast speeds and wide range of VPN servers. At the time of writing, it runs servers in 100 cities in just shy of 80 cities around the world.
The following protocols are on offer: PPTP, L2TP-IPsec, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), and SSTP. The Express client for Mac/Windows has a sleek design and can be used to change servers and protocols, to check your connectivity log, and to run a speed test. There is also an app specifically for iOS and Android users (for use only with the OpenVPN protocol).
Aside from unlimited bandwidth and unrestricted speeds, Express VPN has a clear no-log policy meaning that user activity is not tracked. What’s more, the provider operates 24 hour support via chat or email.
- Known for fast VPN speeds
- Large server range
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 30-day free trial on offer when referring friends
- Free trial only available through friend referrals
- No Smart DNS
5. HideIpVPN (VPN and/or Smart DNS)
HideIpVPN operates out of Romania, but the company is registered in the United States. It offers both VPN and Smart DNS and has VPN servers in the following countries: UK, US, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada (with up to eight servers in each location).
For its VPN subscription, HideIpVPN offers STTP, OpenVPN, SoftEther, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec encryption protocols. Bandwidth is unlimited and there are no restrictions on traffic. On top of this, no traffic logs are retained and 24/7 support is available.
In addition to its subscription services, HideIpVPN runs a free trial for VPN and Smart DNS in the US, UK and the Netherlands, but speeds are generally slower and encryption is less reliable (note: for the free trial, all P2P and BitTorrent use is restricted to Dutch and German nodes).
- Cheap provider with Smart DNS from $4.95 a month and VPN starting at $5.99
- Over 140 channels
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Up to 3 simultaneous connections
- Based in Romania (good for privacy)
- Small server range
6. Unblock-Us (Smart DNS)
Unblock-Us is a dedicated Smart DNS service specifically for bypassing geo-restrictions and gaining access to blocked channels and streaming services. There is a wealth of channels to choose from, including Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. On the Unblock-Us website, these channels are categorised as video on-demand, sports channels, music, and children’s entertainment. For UFC fans and enthusiasts of other sports, Unblock-US also publishes important upcoming sporting events.
Aside from its Smart DNS, the Unblock-Us website details its VPN service (known as Smart VPN), which encrypts user data by sending all traffic through a VPN tunnel. At the moment, however, it’s clear that the service is still under development.
- One of the few dedicated Smart DNS providers
- Cheap at $4.99 per month
- 1-week trial available
- Headquarters in Canada (good for privacy)
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
- VPN service still a work-in-progress