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Usman vs Covington live stream: Free links to watch UFC 245 flood online as piracy hits 'peak levels'

Hundreds of illegal links expected to flood Facebook, Twitter and Reddit forums

Anthony Cuthbertson
Saturday 14 December 2019 11:02
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Israel Adesanya dances during his walkout at UFC 243

Colby Covington is set to take on Kamaru Usman at the main event of UFC 245, with the Welterweight title on the line. Unusually, UFC has also put two other title fights on a single pay-per-view in the US, as Max Holloway faces Alexander Volkanovski and Amanda Nunes squares off against Germaine de Randamie.

Fight fans will be able to watch the contests live on BT Sport in the UK without having to pay an additional fee beyond the standard monthly or annual subscription, however it's a different story in the US. ESPN's partnership with UFC means viewers will need to pay $79.98 for a UFC bundle, which includes a year-long subscription to ESPN+.

As with previous UFC events, such high fees will force people unable or unwilling to pay to search for ways to watch UFC 245 online for free, with hundreds of links to illegal live streams expected to spread online in the build up to the fight.

For UFC 244 in November, pirated streams were shared across social media platforms like Facebook Twitter and Reddit, while also ranking highly on search engines, leading some experts to claim that it has never been easier to view and find illegal content online.

Ahead of UFC 242, the Industry Trust for IP Awareness warned that "TV, sports and film piracy has reverted to peak levels in 2019", and the issue does not appear to be slowing down.

The piracy plague is not limited to UFC, with almost every major sporting event being caught up in the phenomenon in recent years.

Last weekend, Anthony Joshua's recapturing of his heavyweight belts from Andy Ruiz Jr saw a huge spike in illegal streaming. Wayne Lonstein, CEO of anti-piracy firm VFT Solutions said it was boosted by over 100 apps that let users watch free live streams of boxing bouts.

"One trip to the App Store will show you over 100 apps capable of taking a stream, be it legal or illegal, and re-broadcasting it instantly globally," he told The Independent.

A recent survey found that over 5 million UK football fans admit to watching unofficial streams, despite knowing they are illegal. The Fans of the EPL report by OLBG revealed the scale of the trend, which is proving costly for rights holders.

"This shadowy world of data piracy drains money away from the sport and threatens the integrity of the game," Bill Bush, director of policy for the Premier League, told OLBG at the time.

One way rights holders have been combatting the issue is by scrapping the pay-per-view model altogether.

Earlier this year, BT Sports made the bold decision to broadcast both the Champion's League and Europa League finals for free on YouTube, in a move that was described as a "major blow" for online pirates.

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