In the hour before UFC 168 graced us with KO’s, submissions and leg-breaks, UFC honchos Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta held a press conference to unveil their company’s latest and greatest endeavor – the newly-minted online digital library of MMA bouts known as UFC Fight Pass. And while the monthly subscription service promises (and pretty much delivers) the most extensive list ever of high-level cross-promotional MMA fights dating back to the sport’s early days, as well as numerous freebies such as behind-the-scenes videos, one big question remains to be answered: does UFC Fight Pass suck?
After fiddling around with it, here’s what Bleacher Report lead writer Jonathan Snowden had to say:
I love the concept of the UFC Fight Pass. I HATE actually using the UFC Fight Pass. Very hard to find what you want and access it.
— Jonathan Snowden (@mmaencyclopedia) January 2, 2014
MMAJunkie scribe Ben Fowlkes did his own little expedition and came to this conclusion:
The bad news is, at least in its current form, it’s nowhere near as complete or extensive as the product advertised by UFC executives on Saturday night (“You have access to everything,” White said at one point, though it clearly isn’t the case right now). Want to watch individual PRIDE fights? Sorry, all Fight Pass has are old episodes of “The Best of PRIDE,” and it’s tough to tell what’s in each one.
Want to watch specific fights that you remember as being particularly awesome, like, say, Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann? Type that into the search field and you get this: “No videos found matching your search query.” Kind of feels like signing up for HBO Go only to have them tell you that season three of “The Wire” isn’t available. What’s the point?
And if this is the free trial that’s supposed to get me hooked so I won’t cancel when it ends, shouldn’t you be putting your best foot forward now? Shouldn’t you hold off on announcing your bold new digital effort until it’s, you know, ready for us to look at it and form opinions on it?
Even the folks over at FightOpinion gave a detailed breakdown, enumerating what changes they believe need to be make UFC Fight Pass viable.
On the other side of the coin, Fowlkes had saw some positive virtues with it.
Once I created an account to check out the free trial (which still requires a credit card to sign up for, even if Zuffa won’t start billing it until March 1), I had to admit there was a lot to like. Want to watch Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson (still my pick for Fight of the Year) all over again? One click and you’re there. You can even watch the entire main card from that event, which allows you to choose your camera angle and audio feed, going into either fighter’s corner to hear what his coaches are shouting at any given moment.
Of course, the real test of UFC Fight Pass will come on Saturday, when UFC Fight Night 34 is shown live over it. For although there have been plenty of Internet-broadcast events by various lower level promotions over the years, this will be the first time a UFC has gone that route, and even a UFC held in Singapore and aired live at 6:30am EST is bound to draw a bigger digital “crowd” than those others that have come before. Will UFC Fight Pass hold up?