If you’re reading this article, chances are you got dragged to a sports bar by a friend who wanted to watch some UFC fights. Unfortunately for you, you didn’t know how long the whole card would last. And now you’re wondering, how long does a UFC event last?
A UFC event typically lasts about 6 hours from start to finish. This means 6 hours starting from the first scheduled bout on the early prelims (starting at around 7:00 pm), up until the end of the main event (usually ending after 12:00 am). However, the main card of the event usually only lasts about 2 hours, and typically consists of about 5 fights.
There are a lot of factors that go into the total length of a UFC event. Perhaps you only want to know the length of the prelims, or the main event. In the rest of this article, I will address questions and factors relating to the length of a UFC card.
If you were instead looking for the length of an individual UFC fight, you can find that here: How Long Does A UFC Fight Last?
I want to note that any times mentioned in this article are in relation to the time zone in which the fight takes place. So for example, most UFC events are held in Las Vegas, where the Main Event starts at 10:00 pm. However, if you were watching the same event in New York, the Main Event would start at 1:00 am.
Likewise, if you’re on the west coast, but the fight is in NYC, then the Main Event will start at 7:00 pm in your time.
Please take this into consideration when looking at the times at which each section starts.
So like I said earlier: if you’re reading this, you’re probably at a sports bar wondering how long until the event is over. Well luckily for you, a UFC event at a sports bar is actually shorter than the full length, as sports bars do not show Early Prelim fights.
If you’re not sure what Early Prelims or Prelims are, they are basically sections of the event that lead up to the Main Event. The Early Prelims, Prelims, and Main Event (shown in that order) each contain about 5 fights, with the best fights being reserved for the Main Event.
The Early Prelims usually start at around 6:30 pm, and end before 8:00 pm (which you can see by looking at a recent event on the UFC website). This means that if you watch a UFC event at a sports bar, you save yourself about an hour and a half of watch time.
Since the Early Prelims are not shown at sports bars, the earliest fight a sports bar shows will be at 8:00 pm, which is the time at which regular Prelims start.
And because a UFC event typically ends a bit after 12:00 am, the event will last about 4 hours at a sports bar (from 8 pm – 12 am).
It is possible for a UFC event to end earlier than anticipated, reducing the length from the 6-hour average. This occurs when many of the main event fights end in an early stoppage.
For example, UFC 142 was an event held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, headlined by a UFC featherweight bout between the champion Jose Aldo, and the challenger Chad Mendes.
Of the five fights on the main card, four of them ended in first-round stoppage, while the fifth ended in a third-round stoppage. The combined fight time in total for the five fights was 23 minutes and 22 seconds!
That is a very short fight time for a main card. To put it in perspective, the maximum scheduled fight time for those five bouts was 1 hour and 25 minutes!
The UFC 142 main card ended after less than 2 hours, and the entire event lasted less than 6 hours from start to finish. In local time, this means the main event started at 10:00 pm, and ended at around 11:45 pm, very early for a UFC event.
A main event that goes the full allotted time can last almost three hours. This can cause the event to last much longer than the 6-hour average.
This was the unfortunate case with UFC Sydney in 2017, which broke the record for the longest event in UFC history. The main card lasted 3 hours, and the entire event lasted 7 hours from start to finish. In local time, that main event would have been from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am.
So as mentioned earlier, a UFC event is split up into three sections: Early Prelims, Prelims, and the Main Event. These sections are ordered by the excitement and anticipation for the fights in them.
For the same reason, the following section will have more fights than the previous one, which typically means 3 Early Prelim fights, 4 Prelim fights, and 5 Main Event fights.
The Main Event will have the most exciting fights, containing champions, former champions and UFC veterans. In contrast, the Early Prelims will contain up and coming fighters, with many of them making their UFC debut. Oftentimes any fights held before the Main Event (aka main card) are referred to as the ‘undercard’.
Each section has differing lengths of time that they last, mostly due to the number of fights scheduled. So here, I’ll detail the typical length of each section.
The Early Prelims typically feature 3 fights, although they might feature 4 fights on rare occasions. As of this post, the Early Prelims are exclusive to the UFC Fight Pass streaming service, which is why early prelims are not broadcasted at sports bars.
The Early Prelims are scheduled to start at 6:30 pm, with the Prelims scheduled to start at 8:00 pm. Since there are only three fights, the maximum possible fight time is 45 minutes, as each fight can only last 15 minutes.
Another thing to consider about Early Prelims is that the fighters do not get post-fight interviews, and do not get announced. This shaves time off the Early Prelims, which the UFC does to maintain viewership, as most people tune in for the Main Event.
With all this in mind, the Early Prelims tend to last about one hour, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
The Prelims typically feature 4 fights, and on rare occasions, 5 fights. As usual with non-title fights, the bouts are scheduled for 15 minutes of fight time. This means a maximum possible fight time of 1 hour.
The prelims typically start at 8:00 pm, and end before the Main Event starts at 10:00 pm. The difference between the Early Prelims and the regular Prelims is that Prelim fighters get announced in the Octagon, and also get interviewed inside the Octagon after their fight.
For this reason, the Prelim bouts take longer than Early Prelim bouts. Despite this, the additional time is not a lot.
The Prelims start at 8:00 pm and usually end by 9:30 pm, meaning this section lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The main card is the most anticipated section of the fight card. It consists of the most high-profile fights. For this reason, the UFC tends to include 5 fights on the main card.
The length of the main card can vary depending on one main factor: championship bouts. A championship bout can be scheduled for a maximum of 25 minutes. The last fight of the card will almost always be scheduled for 25 minutes.
However, it is pretty common for the UFC to schedule two championship fights in one main event, and sometimes even three. This means that with five fights on the main card, scheduled fight time can vary from 1 hour and 25 minutes, up to 1 hour and 45 minutes.
On top of that, we can add the extra time taken to have the fighters walkout, get introduced by the announcer, and get their post-fight interview.
However, despite the possibility of the main event lasting 3+ hours, the truth is, it usually ends after 2 hours. This is because high-caliber fights tend to result in finishes, which makes the main card shorter in length.
Taking all this in mind, the Main Card usually lasts about 2 hours and 30 minutes. It typically starts at 10:00 pm and ends at around 12:30 am.
So in conclusion, there are many factors that can change the length of a full UFC event, with the most important factor being the fights that end early.
In short, the Main Card of a UFC event typically lasts 2-3 hours, starting at 10:00 pm and ending at around 12:30 am. However, a full UFC event, taken from start to finish, lasts about 6 hours. The Early Prelims start at around 6:30 pm, followed by the Prelims at 8:00 pm, with the final fights of the Main Event ending at around 12:30 am.
I hope this post helped you understand how long a UFC event is. Perhaps now you can figure out how much time you have left until the event is over. If you liked this post, please consider checking out similar posts on the Martial Arts History page. Thanks for reading!