UFC and Meta
The UFC on Thursday announced a partnership with Meta, the company of which Zuckerberg is founder and CEO. Brands under Meta’s banner include Facebook and Instagram, as well as Oculus, a company that produces virtual reality hardware and software.
And through that partnership, announced in a press release, UFC Fight Pass will offer live and on-demand MMA events in virtual reality through Meta’s Horizon Worlds app, which runs through Oculus devices such as the Meta Quest 2 headset.
Friday’s LFA 144, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass, will be the first combat sports event to come to the Horizon Worlds app. LFA 144 will take place at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
— UFC (@ufc) October 23, 2022
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the world’s largest organizer of mixed martial arts. MMA blends various techniques from different combat sports – such as boxing, judo, taekwondo, muay thai or karate – and is extremely popular.
The UFC’s main events are broadcast as pay-per-view events and regularly register million-dollar sales. Soon, martial arts fans will be able to experience the show in virtual reality.
UFC Fight Pass coming to Horizon Worlds
Recently, UFC and Meta announced a partnership to bring the organization’s events to virtual reality. As a result, the UFC Fight Pass subscription service – through which fans access live MMA shows – will be available in Meta’s proto-metaverse, Horizon Worlds.
Fights will be streamed live as 180-degree videos and then made available as on-demand replays for a set period of time. In the case of “LFA 144,” the first live broadcast took place on October 14 and will be available for replay from October 23 to 27. Production company YBVR is preparing the shows for broadcast in VR.
UFC boss calls himself a fan of VR
UFC president Dana White, who also comes from boxing, has long been involved in virtual reality. On his Instagram channel, the UFC boss recommends a VR game for boxing training. For retired boxers like him, he says, Thrill of the Fight is a real workout. Misha Cirkunov also uses VR boxing.
The active MMA fighter prepares for fights in virtual reality using Creed: Rise to Glory. However, Cirkunov has a different approach:
“In training, you can beat anyone, but how to perform under all those lights and in front of all those people… that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ve been simulating it with a stunt at home,” Cirkunov explains. To control his stage fright, he says, he trained with a virtual reality helmet. “I put this helmet on and then got into a championship boxing ring, and now I’m not itching for any of it.”
“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 virtual reality,” said Crowley Sullivan, vice president and general manager of Fight Pass. “With Meta providing the VR platform and YBVR lending its production expertise, we are confident it will be a great experience for fight fans.”
Additional VR broadcasts on Fight Pass will be announced in the coming weeks.
Zuckerberg caused a stir when he attended UFC Fight Night 211 on October 1. A few days before the event, at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, it was announced that credentialed media could attend media day and weigh-ins, but not the fights.
Zuckerberg attended with his wife and other high-level Meta executives and sat ringside for an event with no media and no fans.
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