The mixed martial arts league has reached a deal to showcase its main events at over 300 movie theaters, starting with UFC 111 on March 27. The UFC announced the deal to The Associated Press on Monday.
Although the UFC experimented with big-screen presentations for its fights in Britain for several years, this stateside deal follows the financial success of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in 170 movie theaters last September.
“I’m always interested in distribution, in finding new ways to get UFC to people,” UFC president Dana White said. “My philosophy is always that we haven’t scratched how big this is going to be, because we haven’t got it into the mainstream yet. This is just another way to do that. I’m anxious to put it out there in theaters and see what happens.”
Up to 20 screenings will be hosted by various UFC fighters, including events in Chicago and Minneapolis.
Georges St. Pierre will defend his welterweight title against Dan Hardy in UFC 111’s main event at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with Frank Mir fighting Shane Carwin for the interim heavyweight title.
White said he isn’t worried about harming the UFC’s pay-per-view revenue by making the fights available for the price of a theater ticket that will cost less than buying the fight at home. He believes boxing hurt itself in recent years by making its biggest fights only available on pay-per-view instead of creating alternative ways to watch, including the UFC’s extensive business on the Internet.
White expects the same fans who watch fights in bars or at parties will be intrigued by a huge screen and surround-sound.
“It’s another way to get the product in front of people,” White said. “We’ll do everything.”