MMA is the fasting growing sport in the world today and is rapidly garnering attention that it rightly deserves, but to mention MMA in the same breath as soccer, and to believe it will ever eclipse one of the oldest and best loved sporting games is a non-starter.
The bottom line is this: MMA will never ever eclipse soccer, not in this lifetime or the next.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship for almost two decades has been near enough the forerunner of professional mixed martial arts—absorbing promotions like PRIDE, Strikeforce and WEC, which has given them a tight rein over the industry.
The Zuffa-based promotion is continuously working tooth and nail to reach their niche audience (18-34 year-olds), and will continue to do so in the future.
Furthermore, the UFC on FOX deal (free television viewing) which also incorporates UFC on Fuel TV and UFC on FX is all part of expanding the UFC brand.
At present, the average attendance figures for UFC events range from 10,000 to 20,000, and to date, UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields has had the highest number of attendees—55,000-plus, however, that event took place in St. Pierre’s native Canada.
That said, the aforementioned numbers pales into significance what football teams like Borussia Dortmund, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United pull in (an average of 70,000 a game) playing 19-to-20 home games a season.
Now consider the fact that the UFC puts on between 20-to-30-plus shows annually, and even if ever other MMA promotion and/or top promotions like Bellator, Dream, Bamma and M-1 were added into the mix, they still couldn’t contend with those footballing figures.
There are over 500 top-flight football clubs in Europe alone, not to mention South America, Asia and Africa. Needless to say, it would be a sporting massacre if the inclusion of the low-to-mid-tier teams were brought into the equation.
Soccer/football is more than global, it’s an institution—it’s eaten, lived and breathed from the earliest of ages, and to assume MMA or any practiced sport on planet earth will or could ever eclipse it, is a no-brainer—it shall never happen.
For additional information, follow Nedu Obi on Twitter.