BT has been confirmed as the new home of the mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Last month a report by mmajunkie.com which quotes UFC Managing Director of Europe, Middle East and Africa Garry Cookas saying a UK deal was “very close”.
Following a spate of rights acquisitions by BT, including 38 Barclays Premier League matches per season, internet speculation suggested the UK telecoms and TV firm was likely to be the UFC’s new partner.
UFC today confirmed the signing of “a 3-year ground breaking partnership” with BT starting from August 1st.
Garry Cook, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of UFC EMEA, said “The keys to success for UFC, in broadcast terms, are to identify strategic partners who are committed to building the business together beyond just airing non-European premium live content. UFC athletes are the most committed and dedicated in the world of sport and this new relationship will help people gain a more in depth understanding of the sport and our brand.”
Simon Green, Head of BT Sport, said the channel was “delighted to have signed this agreement with UFC.”
Green added: “We’ve said BT Sport will offer a wide range of sports that appeal to different audiences and we know that UFC has a huge, committed fanbase in the UK and Ireland and we hope they will be excited about our plans to develop the coverage of the sport”.
In addition to the Premier League games, the channel has already announced deals to show Rugby Premiership matches and games from a number of international football leagues including Italy’s Serie A, France’s La Ligue 1 and Major League Soccer in the US and the Brazilian Football Championship.
It has also signed a deal with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to show up to 800 hours of live tennis, including the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.
In February it further boosted its portfolio of rights with the purchase of Disney’s UK and Ireland ESPN business.
As well as signing up major rights, BT has been signing on screen talent for its channels, which will broadcast from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Spurs and Wales player Gareth Bale recently signed up as BT Sport Ambassador and will also appear “regularly” as a guest.
The channel which has already announced Jake Humphrey, Lawrence Dallaglio and Clare Balding as presenters.
Humphrey will front coverage of the channel’s 38 Barclays Premier League matches per season while Dallaglio will serve as rugby union expert and Balding will present a “unique” sports themed chat show.
Later this week BT is expected to unveil more details about its retail offering, including pricing and platform availability.