The UFC’s Fight Pass service will switch from it’s currrent free status to a monthly subscription this Saturday, March 1st and according to UFC exec Marshall Zelaznik the newest string to their bow has already exceeded expectations.

“When we built our business model for this we looked at our numbers on Facebook, we looked at our numbers that were watching free prelims, we looked at the number of people that would come to the world and transact with a pay-per-view or an a la carte video, and we kind of put all that together and came up with numbers we thought were reasonable and justifiable to rely on,” Zelaznik tells USAToday. “We’ve more than doubled it, and we’re coming up on the verge of tripling it.”

That’s impressive, though it has to be stressed that while anybody who’s used the service so far has had to provide their credit card details, no-one has actually had to shell out any money to date, so it’s only this weekend that they’ll start to get an idea of how things are really going.

And in all fairness they have laid out a decent line-up of exclusive content to encourage fans to part with their cash in the month ahead, including two live events: the TUF China Finale which takes place on Saturday morning live from Macau, plus UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson Vs Manuwa a week later in London.

On top of that there’s also the premiere of the next season of TUF: Brazil, a show that’s already been attracting plenty of attention due to the heated rivalry between the team coaches, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva which is reported to have boiled over into a physical confrontation during filming.

Zelaznik is also confident that they can continue to deliver meaningful content in the coming months.

“For me, the trick is not only converting all these free subscribers to pay subscribers, it’s giving them content that will also keep them there,” he says.

Not everyone is as happy as the UFC’s exec’s seem to be though. Some fans are disappointed that they now have to pay for live content that before they’d have been able to enjoy for free, while there’s also a concern amongst some fighters that being assigned to a Fight Pass exclusive show will hurt their chances of landing sponsors.

It’ll be interesting to see how the service performs in the coming months. Having said that, given that it’s internet only, it’s not going to be possible to find out how many people are subscribing and watching each events unless the UFC specifically chooses to divulge that information.

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Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.