Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon for the first time in over a year, as the former two-weight world champion takes on Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246.

MMA fans will be able to watch the long-awaited return of The Notorious live on BT Sport Box Office in the UK, with the main card beginning at 10pm ET (3am GMT, Sunday). In the US the fight and the undercards will be broadcast on ESPN+, while in Australia Main Event have the rights to show the contest.

The cost of watching the fight ranges from the £19.96 pay-per-view fee on BT Sport, to $85 (£65) in the US for anyone who doesn’t already have an ESPN+ subscription – a price that recently increased in time for McGregor’s return. 

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This rising costs of major sporting events has helped contribute to a surge in online piracy, with some experts claiming it has never been easier to find and watch illegal live streams for free

Those unwilling to pay to watch the fight will find hundreds of pirated streams shared across social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as forums in popular sites like Reddit, in the build up to the UFC 246.

For UFC 245 in December, illegal streaming websites were listed on major search engines, while keywords allowed some streams to spread across social media.

The phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, with the Industry Trust for IP Awareness warning last year that "TV, sports and film piracy reverted to peak levels in 2019".

The issue is a global one, with rights holders around the world calling on governments to crack down on the epidemic.

"It is simple economics. The production cost for live sporting events.. are high. If the consumer is not paying, the broadcaster is unable to pay the rights owners," Choong Kay Lee, vice-president and chief of sports business at Malaysian broadcaster Astro, wrote in a blog post in October.

"The sport will then suffer and fans will have to live with a lower quality product. Legitimate broadcasters pay huge sums to air such content only to lose out to pirates or who do not invest in sports."

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