ROUNDTABLE: Do you think MMA is still the fastest growing sport in the world?
RICK MONSEY, MMATorch Contributor
Yes, MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world. The UFC is leading the way in a global expansion. Just think, this time last year they finally sanctioned MMA in New York. Now they’ve had multiple shows there. With other new markets being hit every year the sport will continue to grow and grow.
One big factor in the near future will be what broadcaster the UFC will land on after the FOX contract expires. Their television exposure is key. I personally hope the UFC doesn’t sign with Showtime. Don’t get me wrong, stop clutching at your pearls and let me explain. I’ve been a crew member on multiple Showtime shows so I love me some Showtime. But they already have boxing featured very heavily on their channels. I wouldn’t want UFC or boxing to play second fiddle to each other. Showtime Boxing kicks ass in case anyone didn’t know.
SEAN COVINGTON, MMATorch Contributor
I say yes, it has a wider build than other sports, there’s a gym damn near on every street corner. There are sooo many small promotions MMA is like pro wrestling in the territory days. That just shows how far MMA has to go. Bellator and UFC are WWF and WCW. UFC needs a network like WWE, I been saying that for years.
JOSHUA GARCIA, MMATorch Contributor
I do think MMA is still the fastest growing sport in the world. I don’t think the UFC is growing as fast, but I think overall the sport is growing with a ton of regional promotions coming out and gyms being packed with people training and learning about the sport. We will see where it stands when the UFC has to negotiate a new TV deal. I think fans are burnt out on UFC’s methods of pushing talent onto the audience and not letting fighters organically gain a following, but overall MMA is doing great and fighters now are coming out that have been training since they were very young and are more talented than ever before.
DAVE KOULA, MMATorch Contributor
Depends on how you look at it. Is there a sport in the world that has grown at anything resembling the pace MMA has since 1993? 1999? 2003? Probably not. But if we’re talking kind of year to year, no I can’t imagine it is, but I don’t follow any other sports. Your big time sports don’t seem to be any bigger or smaller than they were ten years ago best I can tell (maybe football actually, but what do I know?), but if we’re talking actual trajectory, it’s tough for that argument to hold water given in every measurable way this year is worse than last year. So from inception to now, I would predict it is. Actual current growth pattern, there’s no way.
COLE HENRY, MMATorch Contributor
It’s hard for me to judge. It seems like it is in some aspects, but not in others. We certainly have the biggest star we’ve ever had, and he is getting the highest PPV numbers, but I’m not sure if he’s really making the sport more popular or if Conor McGregor is just becoming a sort of cult of personality. In my world it’s pretty much the only sport…so…yeah, I guess I don’t know.
RAFFAEL IGLESIAS, MMATorch Contributor
Is MMA still the fastest growing sport in the world? Less and less parents are allowing their children to play contact sports, particularly sports that make children vulnerable to blows to the head. Societal knowledge about concussions nowadays make it hard to say whether the sport will keep growing at the pace it has been, at least in North America.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch Columnist
No, you can’t be the fastest growing sport in the world for years. Things don’t work like that. At one point, MMA was the fastest growing sport in the world until it reached a peak. Then things slowed down. It can still grow, but not at that rate. However, you could more easily argue that MMA is receding in popularity rather than growing. MMA experienced tremendous growth for a while there, but you can’t sustain that. The numbers might be down in some areas from their peak, but they’re generally well beyond what they were before. You can’t be the fastest growing for long. After a while, you’re just popular. That’s where MMA is, it’s popular.
ZACK HEYDORN, MMATorch Contributor
No. I’d certainly like to answer differently but logic just tells you that it can’t be. Why? The sport is just too dangerous. Because of that, there is a natural cap on who will be interested. One part of that is participation. Because of the violence, there is a limited number of people who will actually want to become MMA fighters. The danger and gruesomeness of the sport also makes it unwatchable for some. Put those things together and I think you have a sport that has an incredibly loyal group of true fans, but also one without infinite potential.
JOHN HARRIS, MMATorch Contributor
No I don’t think so. Dana White said over the past weekend that 2017 was the biggest year for the UFC but that is including the Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather fight. Overall in 2017 PPV numbers are down as UFC 215 and 216 failed to break 150,000 buys. UFC 213 also topped off at around 150,000, so three of the last four UFC PPVs have not even cleared 200,000. Like it or not, as the UFC goes, so does the rest of MMA.
If interest is down in the UFC it trickles down to all other MMA promotions. The lack of star power in the UFC is really hurting business. The UFC has gone with the model of the NFL and WWE by trying to make the company the draw and not the fighters. Stars sell fights and draw money not just the name UFC. The TV deal with FOX has helped the UFC and all of MMA gain some mainstream appeal but other media outlets such as ESPN, NBC, etc still give MMA very little coverage. Recent UFC PPV numbers, Bellator’s inability to create new stars and lack of mainstream coverage shows that MMA is still a little more underground than we want it to be.
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