top of page

What's the best way to watch an MMA Pay-Per-View? - Opinion

(Photographs by: MMAJunkie and Wix)

By: Kevin Thomas

TUCSON, Ariz. -- With another hot summer of MMA action coming to fans across the globe, many are making important decisions on how to watch their favorite warriors go to battle inside the cage.

In today's landscape, there are many different options for viewing any sport. Live and in person, at bars or restaurants, in a movie theatre, at a watch party, or even on your own in your cave of solitude and sports enjoyment (your home).

This variety of viewing choices begs an obvious question, what is the best way to watch your beloved fighting heroes and heroines? What method for violence consumption leaves you wanting more? This article will aim to help MMA fans weigh the pros and cons of each option on their way to watching the next big event!

LIVE! In Person:

Going to a big MMA event live and in person should be on the bucket list of all fans who have not yet gone. It is something that every MMA fan should do at least once.

There is an intangible feeling created by a crowd made up of thousands of fans reacting to punches, kicks, and clinches, specifically for title fights. A tension and anticipation that is almost unmatched in any sport. The collective release of emotion when there is a result inside the cage also creates a feeling that is like no other.

That must be (on some small level) the feeling spectators felt watching someone attempt to escape death in the Roman Colosseum.

I was personally in attendance for UFC 285 - Jones v.s. Gane at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, N.V. That was an unforgettable weekend. Not only was it my first live MMA event, but it was also the return of Jon Jones. It was the night Alexa Grasso shocked the world. It was also the main card pay-per-view debut of prospect Bo Nickal.

The energy in the building that night almost sent the roof flying off of the building multiple times. I felt goosebumps when Grasso squeezed the title away from Schevchenko in spectacular fashion.

The overall fight week experience for fans going to an event live is another positive of seeing an event in person. Seeing the stars up close, hearing what they have to say, seeing what other athletes and members of the promotion show up for Q&A's, exploring the host city, meeting other fans, and making memories that will last for a lifetime.

There are many positives to watching an MMA event live. Let's discuss some of the negative aspects.

First and foremost, the price of tickets can be an issue for some fans, not only the price of tickets, but if you live in a place that is not a hotbed for visits for major promotions, you may also be looking at travel expenses. Those are never cheap.

Next, fans at live events are receiving less information than those watching on television for example. Not hearing corner coaching in between rounds, no commentators to make attempts at clearing up any possible audience confusion, and no switching smoothly between different camera angles.

The seat you have is your view. Of course, there are massive jumbotrons in almost every arena now that project live footage of the fight to fans aiming to get a better look at the action. However, if I'm paying the money to go to the event live, I would personally feel that I am not getting my money's worth if I'm just watching the big screen most of the time.

Watch Parties:

The watch party is a tradition that has been tried and true since the invention of the big-screen television. It is a gathering of friends and associates who would like to enjoy the violence while having finger foods, snacks, and good conversation.

The watch party can be a very fun way to watch MMA. The bonding that can occur around an event can create a moment that can turn out to be a memory that lasts for a long time.

When fans think back on a fight card that really impressed them or underwhelmed them, they often remember where they were while watching it and with who.

There is a camaraderie that builds between friends at these watch parties. There is also a scientific indication that watching an event, like a big MMA fight with friends, does encourage more conversation.

According to Legacy Community Health, "One in two people say they socialize more when watching sports." This research proves that if you're looking for an enjoyable time with friends, a watch party is a smart way to go. You are bound to become more chatty.

A downside of a watch party can be the fact that some folks are sore losers. We all know a sports fan who takes their favorite team or fighter losing far too personally. Their entire aura and mood can become very negative. Legacy Community Health also states that there is a link between fans being sore losers and their mood.

"[Viewing a loss] negatively affects their mood. Rising blood pressure and heart rates doubling."

Another negative aspect of a watch party can be the size. Too many people in attendance can sometimes draw attention away from the main event. A knockout or fight-changing blow can happen at any second in most fights. Some fans do not want to be talking about brunch plans for the next day while the deciding strike is landing.

Some people at the party may be there for the social interaction first and the fights second. That is just fine, however, for hardcore fans who just want to watch the fight and chat on the side, they may find a large watch party to be bothersome. Opting for a small gathering of friends may be a better option for said fan.

Bar or Restaurant:

Watching a PPV while eating a decent meal or maybe having a drink or two can be a very good way to watch a fight. Being sat down, having the food and drink brought to you, and maybe making a new friend with the person sitting next to you are all great reasons to head to your local eatery for the big fight.

Positive consequences of watching at a bar or restaurant include the fact that you only pay for what you order. You do not have to buy the PPV. Not only is the lower price an upside but enjoying good food while watching an event that brings you entertainment can be a huge dopamine release.

There is also a communal feel to a bustling bar with a dozen televisions that can draw the sports fans in, akin to a watering hole that attracts the life of the Sahara.

A negative aspect can sometimes be the fact that the restaurant or bar can be quite loud. This is not an issue for everyone, but for someone who just wants to hear the kicks of the combatants and calls made by the commentary team, this could be a huge downside.

The establishments in question do, at times, have the audio for the fights on and playing for the patrons. However, having to ask to have the stream put on a television closer to you can be a minor hassle, and some places do not play the audio at all.

In general, the only downside to heading to your local bar for a fight card is immersion and solitude.

Movie Theatres:

The movie theatre is a unique way to watch a big fight. It does seem that the cards shown in theatres are mainly UFC-branded events. However, it is still a great way to catch a card

It has all the best parts of watching a blockbuster film. Popcorn, snacks, a big screen, comfy seats, and high-quality audio. Except, instead of the newest film, it's a highly anticipated fight card.

The audio quality is phenomenal, and the size of the screen is truly hard to match anywhere else. Additionally, the theatres are usually not sold out for fight cards. This means that you could get the feeling that one gets when one walks into a nearly empty theatre to watch a new movie. The feeling that this theatre is your very own home theatre.

I also find it valuable to add that by going to the theatres you are also supporting your local movie theatre. It is well known that theatres struggled during the pandemic and have not seen the same type of engagement since.

A negative aspect of going to a local theatre to watch the event would be the fact that while you save money on the event itself, you could end up spending just as much on snacks and food at the theatre. That won't affect all readers, but for those foodies who can't resist the movie theatre popcorn or the candy display, this could get dangerous for the wallet.

Not only are the snacks possibly overpriced but you also don't have control over the reactions and volume of those around you. Furthermore, the theatre likely is only going to show the main card. Hardcore fans who want to watch the preliminary card on the big screen may be disappointed.

Finally, the fact that other non-UFC promotions are rarely showcased in theatres is a major downside for hardcore MMA fans. Bellator events have been shown in select theatres before, so catching a non-UFC card in theatres is not impossible, but is not something to rely on for viewers of other promotions looking to catch an upcoming card.

The Cave of Sports Solitude (At Home):

For those with a social battery that expires faster than someone can say knockout, just kicking your feet up and watching on your own can be the best option.

Complete control over playing, pausing, rewinding, volume level, snacks, and your overall viewing experience can be enough to convince some viewers to simply stay home, pay for the card, and enjoy the carnage by themself.

For the laser-focused and hardcore fan, this could find itself at the top of the list of options as it offers the ability to focus fully on only what is in front of you without outside distractions.

A downside to watching on your own at home is the fact you have to pay for the card yourself, the lack of social interaction involved, and the possible downgrade in the quality of audio and image (depending on the type of television set-up).

Truly there is nothing bad about wanting to enjoy a broadcast on your own. It may not have the glitz and glam of showing up live. It may not have the buzzing social interactions of a busy bar or a large watch party, but sometimes the only person you need to show up to have fun watching an event is yourself.

The Official Decision:

The pros and cons have been litigated. It is time for this author to give you his choice for what is the best way to watch a PPV.

Through my experience, I have found that watching a PPV at the movie theatre is the most enjoyable way to consume a fight card. This is because of the comfort, quality, and affordability of the experience. Not only that but there is a very low level of distraction involved at a movie theatre. All at a very affordable price as well.

Take for example a UFC event. The UFC charges upwards of $80 for their PPV cards. A ticket to the movies to watch the same card will cost $20-$30 dollars. You can upgrade your screen size, audio quality, and seat comfort for half the price of paying for it on your own. Head to your local theatre and grab some snacks to see for yourself.

In my opinion, runner-up to the movie theatre experience would have to be a watch party. Showing up for the live event itself is always going to top the list for those with the finances to go to multiple events a year. However, going to every live event is simply unrealistic for most people. Therefore, it does not crack the top two options. The watch party is the second best option as you can view all the fights, socialize, snack on some foods, and if the size of the party is just right, truly enjoy the show.


bottom of page