Not everyone in the world understands what a touchdown or a homerun means. But everyone understands what a punch to the face is. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has had its fair share of success in the United States, but MMA around the world has the potential to be just as big as soccer. In 2015, the UFC held 19 of their 40 events outside the USA, which goes to show that the market is no longer in the States. A UFC event in Melbourne, Australia of 56,214 in attendance set a new record for the organization. The UFC being young and the sport still growing, more fans will soon to follow the combat sport just as much as American Football.
Today, almost half of the champions in the UFC were not born in America. There have been 18 non-American UFC champions throughout the organization’s history. Some of the big name stars from the past and present have been Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, and Conor McGregor. As of right now, Conor McGregor is the biggest UFC star that draws people from around the world. There has been many Irish fighters in the UFC, but Conor is the first successful fighter who has not just been dominant, but trash talking his opponents and picking how he is going to win each of his fights.
Recently, UFC 196 set itself as one of the biggest Pay Per Viewed cards for the company. McGregor, despite losing the fight, walked away with the first $1 million dollar purse from the UFC. The event pulled in 14,697 fans into the MGM Grand Garden Arena with a total gate of $8.1 million, according to Yahoo! Sports. McGregor is the biggest star the UFC has on their roster. Dana White, the President of the UFC, has not been shy of what McGregor can bring to the octagon.
“This thing right now is pretty much breaking every record we’ve ever had,” Dana said at a post-fight conference.
Before UFC 196, the organization held an event in London, England where English fighter Michael Bisping challenged Anderson Silva to a middleweight bout. The fight huge not just because of the return of “The Spider” Silva, but also because it was the UFC’s first time having a huge main event on UFC Fight Pass. This event was a test to see how well their streaming service would do and the company saw an increase on subscriptions. This streaming service is a new way to distribute the content because the UFC no longer has to be attached to showing their fight night’s on their channels only allowed in the United States.
As many compare boxing to mixed martial arts, the numbers for boxing, and the UFC are similar. Matches such as Canelo Alvarez vs James Kirkland peaked 2.296 million viewers on HBO. An event that headlined with McGregor and Russian-German fighter, Dennis Siver set a new UFC record on Fox Sports 1. The fight averaged at 2.75 million viewers and peaked at an audience of 3.16 million.
UFC CEO, Lorenzo Fertitta compared the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight in relation with McGregor/Mendes. Lorenzo goes on to explain how the fight with McGregor and Mendes was able to deliver saying, “Even if you’re not a big UFC fan, watch that and there is no way you’re not a fan. We’ve developed these stars like Conor and Ronda who are great at marketing and who pretty much always deliver. They’re going to do a lot of great things I think.”
According to the marketing research firm Repucom, MMA has more fans Major League Baseball. Baseball has been around since the 1900s and MMA was just born at the end of the 20th century. The fact that different people from different countries can represent their soil allows for a fan base of people to spread throughout the world. It is not easy to comprehend how baseball works, but it is common sense to realize when someone wins in a fight.