The rise in the popularity of combat sports has not gone unnoticed globally. Traditionally, combat sports were limited to Olympic amateur sports until the rise of professional combat sports that have blossomed over time. Combat sports comprise martial arts like kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, judo, taekwondo, modern and ancient wrestling/grappling, and karate.
When these different martial arts styles are combined, they form the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), currently the face of combat sports. MMA fighters are often experts at different martial arts styles as a combination of several disciplines. Despite being one of the newer forms of combat sports, the MMA has been branded the fastest-growing sport globally. And for good reasons, too. For example, in the United States, Mixed Martial Arts is more popular with newer generations of sports fans such as casinos, poker , book of dead slot than other long-standing sporting heavyweights like NASCAR and the NHL.
Brief Overview of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a type of combat sport that involves complete contact and head-on fierceness, allowing opponents to grapple and strike with various techniques from different martial arts styles. MMA is considered the most severe form of combat sports, despite being relatively newer than its contemporaries. The rise and popularity of MMA have been nothing short of unique, and much of this success can be traced to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The MMA has adopted some rule changes that paved the way for evolution and urbanization, contributing to its mainstream adoption. Currently, MMA is easily the most prominent combat sport, overshadowing others like boxing.
Factors influencing the popularity of combat sports
Despite being one of the newer forms of combat sports, the MMA has been branded the fastest-growing sport globally. And for good reasons, too. For example, in the United States, Mixed Martial Arts is more popular with newer generations of sports fans than other long-standing sporting heavyweights like NASCAR and the NHL. Here are the factors that have affected the popularity of combat sports, particularly MMA, in recent years.
Betting Sites and Fantasy Sports
Boxing used to be the preferred combat sport on a betting site for most oddsmakers and players, but that has since changed with the success of mixed martial arts. Betting sites have further increased this popularity, with many of them introducing fantasy MMA, allowing players to stake on events seamlessly. Doing so puts mixed martial arts on par with some of the most successful sports in history, like football, basketball, cricket, etcetera.
Athletes typically bag sponsorship deals relevant to their line of sports and popularity off the pitch. Things are different for MMA fighters, who have more brand representation than athletes of other sports, from the garbs they wear during bouts to paid public appearances.
Internet and Social Media
Social Media and the internet were irrelevant factors during the earliest periods of mixed martial arts’ popularity as a mainstream sport. However, since these factors have such a significant pull right now, MMA leverages them to create a platform for its ever-growing fan base.
Outfits like Bellator and UFC contribute immensely to the public consumption and appreciation of mixed martial arts. But these brands aren’t just famous for existing. Instead, they run some of the most diverse and influential promotions, featuring reality shows depicting up and coming MMA fighters and multi-level marketing campaigns for their pay-per-view (PPV) events.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
It’s impossible to recount mixed martial arts success globally without mentioning the UFC. Not only did UFC generate buzzwords around the sports, but it also became one of the most viewed professional combat sports in the country, despite entering the market in 1993 following several buyouts. The UFC has since presented itself as the biggest MMA promotion worldwide.
Mixed martial arts is multicultural at its foundation because it combines multiple martial arts styles from different parts of the world. But professional MMA sports is even more diverse and features a Women Mixed Martial Arts (WMMA) and several weight classes. The latter allows fighters of all shapes and sizes to compete against opponents within the same weight class.
A better understanding of the rules of the sport
What makes some sports unpopular to certain people is the inability to grasp the concept and rules. MMA is relatively straightforward with its rules and regulations, allowing for easier understanding by fans. So, to its fans, the sport isn’t just about dealing kicks and punches but finding a way to outsmart your opponents using technical and professional skills.
We live in a dispensation where we can expect a bigger and better replacement for any product. But the sports industry has managed to produce a combat sport far beyond forgery or cheap imitation, featuring promotional advertising, high-quality coverage, and multiple media outlets.
Blue Chips athletes were limited to college athletics, MLB, NFL, and NASCAR for a long time, which attracted more fans and viewership. This made it harder for other sports markets to compete until MMA, which is somewhat of a unicorn for how it’s stolen the hearts of many fans in an already monopolized market.
Mixed martial arts has a great future ahead and will continue to grow in popularity as more people change their ideologies of combat sports and appreciate the centuries worth of knowledge that goes into the sport.