It may not have been lawful, but it sure was clever.
Twitch streamer A.J. Lester hatched a brilliant plan on Saturday: He (illegally) streamed the pay-per-view broadcast of UFC 218, and he got away with it by pretending to play it, controller in hand, as a video game.
It worked. Although the full stream has since been deleted from Lester’s Twitch channel, clips of his performance went viral (h/t Bloody Elbow), because of course they did.
The “pretending to play a video game” thing is cute, and it’s almost certainly the reason this is making the rounds on social media. But if you look at the “clips” section of Lester’s Twitch channel — which still contains portions of the longer UFC stream — he didn’t fully commit to “playing” a live UFC event for the entire time.
Lester isn’t holding a controller at all in many of the clips. He’s just watching and reacting to UFC 218. If you watched his body language in certain clips that have also since been removed, you can see as he remembers he’s putting on a show for his viewers and gets back to the charade.
Timing likely played a role in Lester successfully pulling off this stream. EA Sports ran a beta over the weekend for its upcoming game UFC 3, which is out in early 2018. Even a quick search of Twitch turns up plenty of UFC 3 beta results.
It doesn’t look like Lester tagged his original video as UFC 3 gameplay, but it’s easy to imagine this one stream from a — by Lester’s own admission, in a follow-up video — relatively unknown streamer slipping through the cracks.
We reached out to Twitch for comment but haven’t heard back yet.