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Virtual reality is coming to MMA with new Meta UFC dealVirtual reality is coming to MMA with new Meta UFC deal

Virtual reality is coming to MMA with new Meta-UFC deal

Today, the UFC and Meta announced a partnership where UFC Fight Pass will now put on live events in virtual reality. The first card will be this Friday with LFA 144 in Meta’s Horizon’s platform. The partnership is going to enhance what’s already been done in virtual reality and combat sports and take it live, something not done before. With the UFC and Meta in partnership, the sports entertainment world is going to start changing radically. Expect more VR shows, NFT’s, and “tickets” being sold to live events in the future.

I’ve been talking about combat sports and virtual reality’s collision course for a while now. Since March 13, 2020, to be precise. Here are the receipts:

Virtual reality, the Metaverse, crypto, all that tends to get a bad rap but in all honesty, it’s coming and we can’t stop it. Let’s look at how these things are going to shape up in the future.

UFC, The Metaverse, and NFT’s in virtual reality

Three odd things to put in a bucket, kind of like a “one of these things don’t belong game.” Except they are, indeed, in a bucket together. We are getting 180 degree video to start out with the UFC and Meta’s partnership. That’s not particularly groundbreaking as we’ve seen ONE Championship do that already (see the article above). What’s really interesting about this concept is that it’s going to be live.

ONE Championship posts their events a day after they happen. The reason for this is transmitting 180 degree video is very data-heavy and probably costs a pretty penny. The UFC and Meta are likely both putting skin in the game and making it more affordable. The UFC gets to put on live events and Meta gets to collect all the data it needs to advance their virtual reality ambitions.

The fights not being live really takes half the fun away from watching in VR. But with the UFC using LFA as a virtual reality live guinea pig, we’re getting a glimpse into the future of what the UFC will offer. Their deal with ESPN is likely holding back the UFC from broadcasting events outright and the lawyers are probably on that. But for now, regional shows are going to be just as good.

Eventually, we’re going to get 3D modeling of fights and eventually live 3D fights where you are anywhere in the cage you want to be while the fight is going on. That’s a dream. Shoutout, Gary, we chatted about this a while back!

Now, the part you’re going to groan at: NFT’s. NFT means non-fungible toke…kidding. Every article that talks about NFT’s feeds you that line. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what it is and you’ve seen the stupidity behind it. But NFT’s aren’t all bad. Or maybe it is if you never pay for events.

NFT’s will be used in the future as memoribilia for events (think the collectable ticket stubs scene or trading cards). But we’ve also seen a new type of event come into creation with the Metaverse: events. These events are funded by “ticket sales” which grant virtual admittance. These will now be backed by NFT’s and stored there instead of bar codes and QR codes like live events today. You could, perhaps, get a cool Israel Adesanya t-shirt at the UFC’s NFT store for your Metaverse avatar. This new level of consumerism that isn’t really real is coming down the pipeline, for better or (way) worse.

All of this opens up a new frontier for combat sports. It will be entertaining but also make pirating harder. But it’s the novelty of this that makes it worth the money, not the fights themselves. I, for one, welcome the adoption of technology into the sport we all love. Some of the things will suck, but this, I can get behind this.

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