THE EMERGENCE OF MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
With the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the last two decades, the question of whether it has replaced Boxing as the most popular combat sport has been raised. Since its inception, MMA has seen a dramatic rise in popularity and revenue, and it has become one of the most watched sports in the world. It is true that MMA has gained significant ground in terms of popularity over the past several years, but it is still unclear if it has surpassed Boxing as the most popular combat sport.
Additionally, while MMA does generate considerable revenue, it is less clear if the gap is wide enough to consider it a major shift in the combat sports landscape. The most lucrative boxing matches have historically dwarfed the gate draws of any MMA event, with Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao drawing a reported 4.6 million pay-per-view buys and Mayweather’s fight against Conor McGregor topping out at 4.3 million.
REVENUE DISPARITY BETWEEN THE SPORTS
Furthermore, despite MMA’s immense growth, it still does not hold the same international appeal that Boxing does, with countries like the UK and Japan largely choosing to ignore the sport in their respective sports markets. It is clear that while MMA has certainly gained ground on Boxing, it may still be a few decades behind in growth and revenue generation.
DIFFERENCE IN FAN BASES
Generally speaking, MMA fans tend to prefer a good beer and a loud crowd, whereas boxing fans are more likely to appreciate the finer points of the sport. This can be seen in the ticket prices as well, with MMA events typically costing $20 or less, while boxing events often command hundreds of dollars for the best seats.
MMA fans tend to be more casual in their approach to the sport, while boxing fans are more likely to be passionate devotees who are willing to make the financial investment required to witness these amazing displays of skill. Furthermore, the wild atmosphere of an MMA fight is often attractive to younger viewers, whereas older fans may prefer the more formal atmosphere of a boxing match.
This difference in fan mentality is also reflected in how they watch the sport. MMA fans tend to prefer watching matches on YouTube or other free broadcasts, while boxing fans are much more willing to pay for expensive tickets and pay-per-view. This is most likely due to the fact that MMA has only recently become popular enough to be broadcast on television channels, whereas boxing has had a long-standing presence in the mainstream media. Additionally, MMA’s relatively small audience and smaller venues means that tickets can be more expensive than those for boxing matches.
If we look at some of the most popular websites and blogs visited by MMA Fans, it is immediately obvious that one of the main focus’ is on the violence and bloodshed of the sport: MmaMania.com BloodyElbow.com MmaJunkie.com MmaSucka.com, BloodyCanvas.net to name a few.
Ultimately, the divide between MMA fans and boxing fans comes down to the appeal of bloodshed versus the appeal of the sweet science. While MMA fans are often attracted by the brutal nature of the sport and the potential for a bloody fight, boxing fans are more likely to be drawn to the technical aspects of the sport and the finesse required to win a match. Thus, while MMA may be growing in popularity, it’s unlikely that it will ever appeal to the same audience that boxing has been able to attract. It is clear that while MMA has certainly gained ground on Boxing, it is still decades behind in terms of popularity and market share.
Written by: Jack Cameron @TheBrysh