UFC Fight Pass Review: Examining everything it has to offer

Photo by Paolo Tabuena

I go through everything I could find on the pay subscription of Fight Pass, and look at what they have. Including some original series, fight content, geographical issues and other pros and con

Quick answer: If you're blocked out from the fight cards, obviously it is not worth it.

Let me say this. Fight Pass is not a bad product. It's a good product, but it's not great. For cards where there is a guy like Gustafsson headlining as well as solid fighters, such as Gunnar Nelson, Melvin Guillard, Brad Pickett and Louis Gaudinot, 10 dollars is not an absurd amount to pay for that card ALONE (I mean, that's one night eating at home instead of eating out). Now, add in the enormous collection of the Zuffa fight library and a few exclusives, like the Ultimate Fighter... I'm gonna go out and say you're getting a deal IF there is a card like Gustafsson-Manuwa going on as well.

*Note this is a review from viewing Fight Pass in Australia, I don't know how different it is in the US, Canada or anywhere else.

Blocked fights

This is by far the biggest problem. If you're a MMA fan in the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brazil, Chad, Croatia, Djibouti, Estonia, Egypt, Holy See (Vatican City), India, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Macedonia,  Mauritania, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakisatan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, San Marino, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, (two country codes are listed as 'PS' and 'XK'... XK might be Kosovo) Gustfasson vs. Manuwa main card was blocked in these countries.

Fight_pass_blocked_fights_medium

Australia, Brazil and United Arab Emirates stand out the most, since UFC has held events in those countries before. I understand some countries have TV deals in place to air UFC events. The Saffiedine/Lim main card is also unavailable now (I was able to watch it live at the time), in many countries. It doesn't look like a lot when they use the country code, but it's over 30 countries.

TUF Brazil: Sonnen vs. Silva UFC FIGHT PASS EXCLUSIVE!!!! also blocked in Australia, Brazil and many other countries for now. "[Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3] is currently blacked out in AR, AU, BO, BR, BZ, CL, CO, CR, EC, GT, GY, HN, MX, NI, PA, PE, PY, SR, SV and VE". Update: Episode 1 is now available for me in Australia.

It's complete garbage that the UFC gives no indication that these countries would have blocked content while signing up.

It looks fantastic on iPhone... and probably would on other platforms

While I had many stream and quality issues while viewing Fight Pass on my laptop, I had no problem running 720p on my iPhone. I would definitely use this on a tablet, or gaming system (PS3/4, Xbox etc) when they get that running, which they absolutely should ASAP.

So, this stream stuff might be a laptop problem of mine. How was the stream for the rest of you? I could get it on 720p, but it'd pause/glitch for a split second every 10-15 seconds and it made for a viewing that wasn't the smoothest.

Only have one complaint about the iPhone version. It doesn't have a "search" option, so you gotta find stuff on your own. It does have a fighter page though. They are sorted in alphabetical last name order, and you click the fighter and it'll show you his/her videos.

Here's a great advertisement for the mobile Fight Pass by Bloody Elbow's own, formerly known as KatGirl, Katie Winter:

I have to say that I was loving Fight Pass yesterday. It was a beautiful day here so I decided to go to a baseball game during the main card and I was able to watch the fights on my phone while sitting outside in the sunshine. I liked the commentary, my feed was silky smooth and I got to leave my living room. I WIN!!!!

It goes by fast

I wasn't able to watch the main card, but the two fight pass main cards that I have been able to watch went quickly, and people have also had similar responses to the Gustafsson card. You don't have to spend 2 hours to watch 4 fights, and personally that is huge. And anyone who can't watch live commercial-filled TV will like Fight Pass cards. It's one of the things people really like about the Invicta cards thus far.

The navigation sucks

This might sound petty, but having to go back to the homepage to get somewhere else is annoying as hell and I hate it.

The first one is what you see on UFC.TV and when you click on any video

Ufc

When you hover over "Pay-Per-View Events" or "UFC FIGHT PASS" it brings out a giant selection of things you can click. However, when watching a video , and you hover over one of those headings, nothing pops up. So, you gotta click "UFC TV" or one of the other headings, taking you to the UFC.TV homepage, or the Fight Pass Homepage in order to go to the next category you want (I'll go into the categories below)..

'Hiding' Events (also has to do with navigation)

I feel like they are "hiding" or just not displaying the recent PPV's well at all. The most recent PPV you can watch is UFC 167: GSP vs. Hendricks, something I'm sure more than a few people would like to watch if not rewatch. Yet, starting from the UFC.TV homepage (shown above) it takes about 5 steps to get to the UFC 167 PPV. And they aren't obvious steps that pop up in the center monitor telling you to "click this to go here".

Even if I search "UFC 167" it's not even one of the first results. I have to scroll down, and scan multiple videos to find it. Another unnecessary hassle. Call me lazy, but generally people want stuff, quick, easy and hassle-free.

I've used Netflix for about 3 months maybe, and it's very easy to search stuff there. You type in half the name of the movie and it'll pop up along with a few other choices. The titles are detailed without being overwhelming. It shouldn't just say "UFC 167". Put 'entire card' in brackets or something! The original Fight Pass series, 'UFC Now', should not be the first result... Speaking of original series and content.

P.S. the search bar is sucky... I typed in "UFC 1" where I think anything with "UFC 1" showed up like UFC 168, or UFC 11 among many others. I went to page 3 and still on UFC 1. 30 pages of search results....

Content and categories (it's definitely not 'All Bouts')

Fight_pass_categories_medium this is what pops up when you hover on the heading

"Find all 2013 bouts in the UFC... 178 videos", it states. They did include Dec 26, 2013... so that there is a cut off to UFC 168, which took place on Dec 28, 2013.

According to Fight Metric, the UFC did 386 fights in 2013. So, even if I subtract the 12 fight UFC 168 card... that is almost a 200 fight/video difference. Now, I didn't watch every single video, so maybe there is some videos with two fights in them, but that would be idiotic since the titles say nothing that would indicate this is the case.

Not to mention the fights have no order. It's not chronological or even alphabetical. This goes for the other categories of "Strikeforce", "Pride" and other Zuffa bout promotions. Hopefully they will add ALL if not at least 90% of the fights as soon as possible. Strikeforce still has a contract, where they have to wait 3 years from the last event.

The fight libraries are missing a lot of "books".

If anyone is still a UFC completionist, from what I can see every season and episode of the Ultimate Fighter that has finished airing is available.

"Original" Series

  • MMA Mindset - Basically, a pre-fight interview. They ask something about "what's your mentality heading into this fight?"
  • The Exchange with Megan Olivi - This is good. I don't hate it. I don't love it. It's Megan Olivi sitting down with someone related to MMA (Miesha, Ronda, Jose Aldo's coach and Chris Weidman's coach, so far). There's a close up of Olivi's face, then a super close up of the interview-ee's face. It's awkward, and a little creepy. But, hey, fans that like Blu-ray cause they can see every flaw, every freckle or whatever, this is for you!
  • UFC Now - Decent idea. Jenn Brown is the host with two other fighters (I've seen Florian, Cormier, Schaub and dos Anjos, of all people, so far) that talk about the fighters are little. Then, they'll watch a few fights, and give their thoughts. I always like to hear what fighters think, but I don't know it's a little generic. Too many superlatives, and generalizations, not enough actual analysis. I rather read a Jack Slack, or watch Gracie Breakdown, BJJ Scout etc
  • I do, however, enjoy listening to Cormier. One of the episodes Jenn Brown, Florian and Schaub rewatched the Jones/Gustafsson fight and neither of them was able to give a definitive answer of who they thought won...
  • You got some full length fighter documentaries (Chuck, Ronda, Forrest).
The video player
  • The default video player size is gigantic. Look at how Youtube does it, and follow their excellent format, even with the changes every few months.
  • I can't stand when you click a video, you can see the top-half of the title of the video. So, instead of watching it right away, I'm fidgeting with my mouse, to get it perfectly placed. Again, look at Youtube. You click a video, everything is even, except for maybe the bottom of a "p" or "j".
  • Don't like that when you pause the video, a screen of 'light-ish black" covers the video.
  • Prelims and main card should be available in one video. It is for some, it isn't for others.
  • Some events show you which fights are on the card. And it lets you go straight to that fight if you want like this
  • Watch_this_fight_medium
  • Events with that ability also have a "markers" function. If you activate it, it'll show you the significant parts of the fight. For example, there are markers for Alistair and Antonio's walkout, 'tale of the tape', Bruce Buffer, round 1, round 2, round 3, any takedown's or striking flurries, and you can skip straight to the finish. It's not the best marker system (often times I'll click it, and the finish will be midway happening).
  • There IS a way to not listen to Anik, Goldberg or anyone you find insufferable. Instead, you can listen to the one of the fighter's corner. The arena sounds aren't as good as they are on the normal broadcast and there's only one camera angle, though. Also, I never knew how much the corner's talk. If I could hear all that while I was fighting, I'm not sure I could concentrate.
  • You can also switch to the Spanish broadcast. The picture in picture views, where you can watch two difference angles at once is basically useless. The two views don't sync up.
FINAL ASSESSMENT

The potential is massive. However, even if you wanted the subscription just to watch the library... it's just not fully there yet. I don't really understand. Stuff is just so hard to find. After a hour or two, I figured it out, but it just doesn't make sense. Why have the full event in one section, then in the "All Bouts' section, all the fights from UFC 1 aren't even there? So, as per my quick answer at the top "if you're blocked out from the fight cards, obviously it is not worth it." If there's a fight you really wanna see, buy the one month subscription, and make sure to cancel before it automatically bills you for the next month. C'mon UFC, I believe in you, and I believe in Fight Pass, but consider my subscription cancelled.

(Just found UFC wants to charge an additional 10 dollars for UFC 2,3 and 4)

Update:
The UFC Director of Media Relations, Ant Evans

And a few things from Marshall Zelaznik via Kevin Iole:

Zelaznik said PPV shows will appear on Fight Pass no sooner than 30 days and no more than 90 days after they’re over.

Zelaznik told me that on March 1, Fight Pass had over 5,000 hours of library content and said "within a couple of weeks, everything will be up."

"We are currently working on adding the search function to the iOS experience," Zelaznik said. "It’s one of our priorities, as you can imagine, and we are working diligently on this. Building out the apps on different platforms presents their own individual challenges, but we expect to get this done within the coming few weeks."

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