The Ultimate Fighting Championship, also known as the UFC, has been around for precisely 25 years and boasts fighters from hundreds of countries around the world. However, the UFC hasn’t always been as popular and accepted as it is today. Founded in 1993, it began as an underground organization with a fight club vibe. There were very few weight classes, meaning bantamweights, weighing in the neighborhood of 135 pounds, would square off against middleweights, weighing around 185 pounds. Clearly, the system was flawed. Flash forward 25 years, and the UFC has 14 different weight classes and an audience of millions around the globe. With the help of social media, pay per views and UFC superstars, the company has helped Mixed Martial Arts become more well known and respected.
There are several key factors as to why the UFC has rose to fame. However there are just a few factors that stand out more than the rest. One factor has a name: Conor McGregor. Known as “The Notorious”, Conor McGregor is recognized as the most popular athletic figure in the world. This is due to his larger-than-life personality and his outrageous trash talking skills. Not to mention his overwhelming accomplishments inside and outside the octagon. In 2014, McGregor defeated Chad Mendes, a very skilled wrestler and respected UFC fighter. McGregor went in the underdog and came out on top, something he would do again and again. He then went on to defeat Jose Aldo just a year later with a knee injury, overcoming adversity like he always does. He then went on to defeat champions Nate Diaz, Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway. All these victories proved that McGregor could not only talk the talk, but he could walk the walk as well. Along with his talent and personality, McGregor brought his loyal, wild country of Ireland with him. Ireland is known to be crazy, but when it comes to supporting one of their own, they go all out. For instance, after McGregor’s untimely loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, his upset Irish fans started brawling with Khabib’s Russian fans right there in the arena. The state of Nevada is still sorting this ordeal out. However it is rumored that Khabib could be getting suspended for a whole year. All these events only add to McGregor’s fame, which in turn sheds more light on the UFC.
In the age of social media, the UFC has really blossomed. Not only does the official UFC Instagram have millions of followers, but so do the fighters’ pages. For example, Conor McGregor has nearly 30 million followers, and UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley has close to two million Instagram followers. This allows users who are not fans to see the events of fights and crazy highlights of fights as well. Additionally, UFC commentator and comedian Joe Rogan has 5.2 million Instagram followers, and he is constantly announcing fight dates and other UFC events on his page. This spreads the message with millions of users, some who don’t even know what the UFC is. On top of having millions of followers, UFC stars like McGregor own companies or act in movies. McGregor has a whiskey business called Proper 12 which is already worth millions of dollars from all the product it has sold. Featherweight Champion of the World Max Holloway also does other things that draw attention to the UFC by posting pictures while hanging out at Drake’s house. All this social media attention only turns more people on to the UFC, making it bigger and more popular now than ever.
The third main factor that has grown the UFC’s popularity and made it so successful is pay per view. When the UFC has big title fights, they are broadcasted on television. However, it is not free to watch like your everyday cable show. Typically title fights, like the one that went down last Saturday with Max Holloway and Brian Ortega, cost 65 dollars to watch. This isn’t very expensive when you compare it to some other things, however the UFC does make a lot of money off of it. Millions of people tune in to watch fights, meaning each one of them is paying 65 dollars. Do the math, it adds up to millions of dollars every fight. Not only does this make the UFC rich, it also makes the fighters rich. This has attracted lots of young fighters looking to beat people up for pay, but it’s not that simple. To be a skilled UFC fighter, it takes more than strength and a lean figure. It takes hours of hard work in the gym, hours spent practicing Jiu Jitsu in the dojo and it takes massive amounts of toughness. In other words, if you can’t take a punch, you can’t fight in the UFC.
Clearly, the UFC has many ways to reach audiences around the world and make money. The truth is, it hasn’t ever been this popular since it’s founding. Thanks to massive superstars like Conor McGregor, large social media platforms and pay per view buys, the UFC continues to blossom into a very successful company. It’s not for everyone, but it does boast millions of fans worldwide. The fights are bloody, and the sport itself is very primal. That perhaps is why the sport is so popular. There are very few rules, and the audience knows it cannot be faked or rigged because it’s simply two guys beating the snot out of each other face to face in the octagon. That is why the UFC is becoming so popular and will continue to thrive for years to come.