Social media has played a major role in the growth of the UFC, with many of the promotion's fighters rewarded for promotion themselves on Twitter.
However, most Twitter fans of stars like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre aren't even real people.
According to a report filed by Ingrained Media, many of the UFC's most notable fighters and popular personalities are followed online by several "fake" Twitter accounts, which are commonly made up of spambot drones or dummy profiles.
But while many Twitter accounts will attract their fair share of spam, Roy Nelson is a special case, with only 7 percent of his followers labeled as "good" and a rate of fake followers well over 80 percent.
To boot, here's the top 10 most influential Twitter accounts in the UFC with verified "fake" followers and inactive accounts in their social network:
- Roy Nelson — Followers: 566,458 (Fake: 82%, Inactive: 11%)
- Michael McDonald — Followers: 24,626 (Fake: 56%, Inactive: 22%)
- Junior Dos Santos — Followers: 599,987 (Fake: 48%, Inactive: 33%)
- Anderson Silva — Followers: 3,301,511 (Fake: 47%, Inactive: 32%)
- Demian Maia — Followers: 285,245 (Fake: 47%, Inactive: 32%)
- Johny Hendricks — Followers: 80,325 (Fake: 41%, Inactive: 28%)
- Vitor Belfort — Followers: 793,158 (Fake: 40%, Inactive: 37%)
- Jose Aldo — Followers: 190,192 (Fake: 36%, Inactive: 31%)
- Dana White — Followers: 2,517,324 (Fake: 35%, Inactive: 37%)
- Georges St-Pierre — Followers: 678,834 (Fake: 34%, Inactive: 31%)
Many firms and services use dummy Twitter accounts to artificially boost a client's social media reach—also a common practice with MMA media and fansites—but the percentages above look particularly damning for Nelson.
Interestingly, this infographic breakdown from Ingrained Media also notes that nearly one-fourth of Twitter followers in MMA come from fake accounts, affecting some of the UFC's most popular Brazilian fighters.
Should the UFC modify Twitter bonuses?
Back in 2011, the UFC started to implement bonuses for fighters using Twitter (via MMA Fighting), with Nelson, Silva, "Big Nog," Maia, and JDS pocketing most of the extra money.
In the three categories where fighters are given monetary incentives for social media use, only the "Most Creative" section focuses on actual content, while "Most Followers" and "Highest Percentage of New Followers" are ruled by raw numbers.
Ingrained Media additionally outs Cain Velasquez, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Nate Diaz and MMA reporter Ariel Helwani (who wrote the MMA Fighting piece, coincidentally) as prominent Twitter personalities with more than a 30 percent rate of fake/inactive followers.