Differences Between UFC Fight Night & ‘Numbered’ UFC Events

Are you wondering about the differences between UFC Fight Nights and ‘Numbered’ events?

In this article, we’ll look at all the differences between the two different events. 

It’s important to note that these are the only two types of UFC events, and ‘Numbered’ events are more commonly referred to as PPVs and used interchangeably in this article.

Differences Between UFC Fight Night and ‘Numbered’ Events

In short, the difference between UFC Fight Night and ‘Numbered’ events is price, the caliber of fighters, title fights, the number of each event per year, event layout, and title of events.

1. Price

The key difference between UFC Fight Nights and ‘Numbered’ events is price. ‘Numbered’ UFC events, more commonly known as Pay-Per-View UFC events (PPV), are available as a single purchase before every PPV event, usually at the price of $74.99.

However, this price isn’t set in stone and customers should compare prices on UFC Fight Pass and through their exclusive rights broadcaster to find the cheapest price.

For example, UFC 279 and 280 are advertised as $74.99, but through UFC Fight Pass they’re available to UK customers for $24.99.

On the other hand, UFC Fight Nights require a subscription to the UFC’s exclusive rights broadcaster in your country. For example, in the USA it’s ESPN+ and in the UK it’s BT Sport.

Subscriptions to ESPN+ cost $9.99 per month (since August 23rd) or $99.99 per year and this gives US customers access to all UFC Fight Night events. For UK customers, BT Sport costs £16 ($20) a month, for a minimum of 2 years; or £25 month by month, cancel anytime.

2. Caliber of Fighters

The second difference between the two events is the caliber of fighters. Both Numbered events (PPV) and Fight Nights have an average of 12 fights each.

Numbered events include the UFC’s biggest stars, champions, and most experienced fighters from start to finish. Most fights involve only fighters ranked in the top 15 but also include great fighters one win away from the top 15.

On the other hand, Fight Night’s main events and co-main events include the biggest stars slightly lower than the elite, but the other 10 fights or so involve middle-tier and lower-tier fighters.

This will be a mix of top 15 fighters and those just outside of it, as well as a mix of newcomers and experienced fighters looking to string together wins again.

Having said this, all UFC athletes are among the best MMA fighters in the world and the quality of fights can be just as great at both events. In terms of entertainment, it’s possible that Fight Nights are equal or even better because title fights and big matchups can make fighters tentative during PPVs.

So yes, while the PPVs feature the most elite fighters, more hype, excitement, and titles on the line, don’t discount Fight Nights, because the talent and entertainment value are outstanding and many will agree they can be just as good or better.

3. Title Fights

The third difference between the two events is title fights.

Numbered events 90% of the time include anywhere from 1 to 3 title fights, both undisputed and interim, but in 10% of the events, there aren’t any title fights and feature highly anticipated fights between the biggest names or fights for the number 1 contender position.

The most recent example of this was UFC 272, which featured Colby Covington vs Jorge Masvidal in the main event and Rafael Dos Anjos vs Renato Moicano in the co-main. Both Covington and Masvidal are considered ‘big name’ fighters who also happen to have a feud, which is how the event became a PPV.

4. Number of Events per Year

There are an average of 42 UFC events per year.

Numbered UFC events are on average once a month, or every 3 and half weeks, for an average of 12 times a year.

As an example, here are some statistics:

  • In 2022 there have been 9 PPV events with another 4 scheduled for a total of 13 PPV events
  • In 2021 there were 13 PPV events
  • In 2020 there were 11 PPV events, but the year was affected by canceled events because of covid
  • In 2019 there were 12 PPV events, while UFC 233 was canceled

This leaves an average of 30 Fight Night events per year, an average of 2.5 per month.

  • In 2022 there have been 20 Fight Night events with another 9 scheduled for a total of 29 Fight Night events (13 PPVs = 42 total)
  • In 2021 there were 30 Fight Night events (13 PPVs = 43 total)
  • In 2020 there were 29 Fight Night events, while another 5 were canceled because of covid (11 PPVs = 40 total)
  • In 2019 there were 30 Fight Night events (12 PPVs = 42 total)

5. Event Layout, Length, and Promotion

There aren’t set times for an event because fights can end in 1 minute or last up to 25 minutes for title fights, but the UFC aims to keep the timing of both PPV and Fight Nights consistent.

Here are the lengths of the past 11 UFC events (4 PPV, 7 Fight Nights) as of August 27, 2022:

  • UFC 278: 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • Vera vs Cruz: 6 hours, 10 minutes
  • Santos vs Hill: 5 hours, 33 minutes
  • UFC 277: 4 hours, 57 minutes
  • Blaydes vs Aspinall: 6 hours, 8 minutes
  • Ortega vs Rodriguez: 6 hours, 3 minutes
  • Dos Anjos vs Fiziev: 6 hours, 24 minutes
  • UFC 276: 5 hours, 25 minutes
  • Tsarukyan vs Gamrot: 6 hours, 18 minutes
  • Kattar vs Emmett: 6 hours, 7 minutes
  • UFC 275: 5 hours, 28 minutes

As can be seen, Fight Nights are consistently longer and are 6 hours or just over on average, while ‘Numbered’ events are roughly 30 minutes shorter at 5 and a half hours.

This is surprising considering ‘Numbered’ events are a lot more expensive. The reason Fight Nights are longer is because a large function of the show is to promote the upcoming ‘Numbered’ event and ultimately increase PPV sales for the UFC.

In between fights the commentary team will talk about the upcoming PPV and there are also animations, stories, montages, and interviews shown with the aim of hyping and exciting fans for the upcoming ‘Numbered’ event.

On the other hand, during PPV events, outside of the fights, a lot of the attention is focused on the next fight, the main card, or the upcoming title fights; because these are nights when UFC history is often made.

6. Differences in Access and Availability

There are also differences in how to access and watch UFC Fight Nights and ‘Numbered’ UFC events.

In terms of availability, for US customers, Fight Nights are only available through ESPN+, both live and past events.

For UK customers, Fight Nights are available live through BT Sport, but they’re also stored and can be rewatched on UFC Fight Pass immediately after the event is finished; available for $9.99 (£8.50) per month. 

BT Sport stores both PPVs and Fight Nights but only has select events, whilst UFC Fight Pass stores nearly every event in UFC history.

For ‘Numbered’ events, PPVs are bought through a country’s UFC exclusive rights broadcaster or through UFC Fight Pass.

All customers can watch PPVs on UFC Fight Pass after they’ve been uploaded. There’s no set date for upload after a PPV has finished, but historically they’ve been uploaded between 1 to 4 weeks after. In 2022, PPVs are uploaded to UFC Fight Pass a lot quicker than previously, usually 1 week after the event.

Rewatching PPVs a few hours after an event can be done with both ESPN+ and BT Sport and all other broadcasters. ESPN+ have replays of PPVs for 15 days after the event has finished, while BT Sport has them available for a much longer yet unspecified amount of time.

7. Title of Events

As mentioned in the introduction, Fight Nights and Numbered UFC events are the only two types of events the UFC has, but how the events are titled is different.

‘Numbered’ UFC events are in event order from 1 to now 278 (UFC 1 – UFC 278), while UFC Fight Nights have had many titles:

  • UFC on ESPN
  • UFC on Fox
  • UFC on ABC
  • UFC on FX
  • UFC on Fuel TV
  • UFC Live

They’re all Fight Nights with different titles based on where they’re airing and the various broadcast deals the UFC has had over the years.

In 2022, they’re either titled UFC on ESPN or UFC Fight Nights, but they’re the same event.

The Bottom Line

So, ‘what are the differences between UFC Fight Night and Numbered UFC events?’

The key difference between UFC Fight Night and ‘Numbered’ events is price, as ‘numbered’ UFC events are often $74.99 each time while UFC Fight Nights are included in the monthly subscription service of a particular country’s exclusive rights broadcaster of the UFC.

Another key difference is that ‘Numbered’ events feature champions and title fights, and they’re hugely hyped and promoted events, while Fight Nights feature number one contender fights, some top 15 fights, and middle and lower-tier fighters consisting of newcomers and experienced fighters.

Overall though, while there are differences, both UFC Fight Nights and ‘Numbered’ UFC events produce high-quality and entertaining cards, meaning Fight Nights shouldn’t be overlooked because they’re somewhat free UFC events.

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