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‘World’s Fastest Growing Sport’ — Fact or Hype?

UFC fanbase fastest growing sport fans NFL MLB NBA NASCAR NHL MLS

I always figured that calling MMA “the world’s fastest-growing sport” was mainly a promotional slogan, based more on allegorical evidence than actual numbers. So is the title deserved, or is it hot air? Using data mined from the Simmons Research Database, has published a new report breaking down the growth of the UFC in the United States over the past three years, compared to other major sports leagues — as well as information on age and gender demographics. We recommend checking out the whole thing if you have time, but here are some highlights:

- The UFC actually is the fastest-growing sports league in the country, pretty much by default. From 2007-2009, the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, and MLS (that’s soccer, you guys) actually suffered losses in their fan bases. The NHL’s fan base grew very slightly. By comparison, the UFC increasing their total number of fans by about 14% (and 30% among “avid” fans) seems like a monumental achievement.

- The UFC is nipping at hockey’s heels in terms of number of total U.S. fans, but they’re still a long way from catching up with NASCAR’s popularity. Still, among 18-34 year-old fans, the UFC is actually more popular than the NHL and NASCAR.

- In terms of gender demographics, the UFC is the biggest sausage-fest in professional sports, with a 75/25 ratio between male and female fans. Of all the leagues analyzed, the MLB was the most gender-neutral, with a 60/40 ratio.

- MMAPayout estimates the global size of the UFC fan base to be roughly 65 million.

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justscrappin- November 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm
Yeah...I've thumb wrestled him before. Alright I'm done now.
rpn452- November 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Wow, the UFC has over 30,000 thousand U.S. fans. To put that in perspective for foreign readers, that's over 30 million in metric units!
Sho Nuff- November 30, 2010 at 9:10 am
I'm pretty sure he meant "allegorical evidence". You see, the cave is where all the sports fans live. And one day, one brave soul left the cave and saw the sun for the first time. When he came back and told the others of the sun, its brightness and warmth, none of them believed him and thought him mad, so they stayed in the cave, watching people drive in circles and fake injuries while occasionally kicking a ball. Then a few more brave souls left with the "crazy" man (who may or may not have been known as Mayhem) and they, too, saw the sun, and saw that it was good. Then a few more...

btw, the sun is MMA.
Peetee- November 30, 2010 at 5:54 am
So if in MMA there is two fighters to watch at a time and in other sports around 20, shouldn't MMA get a 10x multiplier..?
Get Off Me- November 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm
I'm here lmao, but do you know?
justscrappin- November 29, 2010 at 6:13 pm
It sucks that I came in so late on this topic....cuz I would've hit Bongtar with the old " well anything that is only 2 inches hard should get there pretty quick." No one will read this though.....* puts head down walks away kicking rocks *
Anzus- November 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm
1. last time I checked the US isn't 'the world'.

2. who gives a fuck? soccer is by far the most popular sport on the face of the earth - that doesn't make it any more entertaining to watch.

I hope the UFC is focusing on refining the current points system more then it is global domination. 65 million fans? lol.
Swedish- November 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm
High five Dana!
Get Off Me- November 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm
Look at these numbers closer and in reality the UFC is more popular than MLS.
I find it pointless to compare the growth of NHL, NFL, Nascar, NBA and MLB over the past years to the UFC, I should hope the UFC is growing faster than those sports.
I would really like to see how sports like the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB grew in their first ten to fifteen years vs. how the UFC has grown, it at least would be closer to comparing apples with apples.
I too have an issue with 'UFC fasting growing sport' thing, was this Zuffa's numbers only or collective MMA pay per views, television ratings, live gates etc...
MonkeyNuts- November 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm
I think we'd have more fans if the powers that be made MMA more accessible to a broader audience.
MMA event's during events on sunday afternoons (when not football season), women analyst instead of ring girls, family friendly events (how about tailgating at a UFC event!?). Most of all how about some education outreach so that I don't hear "STAND THEM UP!" every 30 seconds by some lame duck that doesn't understand the ground game.
Just a thought...
Or you could just hauk video games and lame prison fighting movies to the same demographic...
Smitty- November 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm
I think Scott Coker helped shrink the sports number of fans dramatically this year. Fucker.
Daley- November 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm
So seeing as this seems to only take into account the UFC does this mean that actually MMA would show higher numbers? Y'know if they included Strikeforce, WEC and the oh I don't know the rest of the MMA world?
It would be interesting to know but at the same time I'm a little too tired at the moment to avoid being grumpy and shouting "MMA is not just the UFC!" at my monitor.
An before anyone bitches I realise that this seems to be broken down into American sports organisations rather than actual sports. I'm just jaded from dealing with n00bs that think the UFC itself is the sport.
BONGTAR- November 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm
World's fastest growing cock..........................right here. Hi-yooo!!
nooger- November 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm
Good Article. Keep in mind this is only for US residents. MMA is very much a global sport and the popularity in other regions will likely be higher for MMA than some of the other sports listed. It'd be interesting to see a global comparison.
RwilsonR- November 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm
@ Fried Taco - I think that is the tag for all of War Machine's prison blogs, though.
jimbonics- November 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm
What the fuck is juice?
Fried Taco- November 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm
I think "sausage-fest" should be one of the tags.
GroundFighterMMA- November 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm
No pie chart? Weak.
Meaot- November 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm
Jesus the color scheme makes those graphs way harder to make sense of. The scales could use some work too. I find the rest of MMAPayout's site to be pretty chic in a simple utilitarian badass way but these graphs make me want to hurl.
Art Gibs- November 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm
This is really good news. Seems like more and more people I meet know about and are into the sport.

P.S. What is allegorical evidence? I think you meant anecdotal evidence.
RwilsonR- November 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm
I think what is frightening about these statistics is how close soccer is to the UFC in total US fanbase. At least they are declining, but still... keep that shit outside of our borders, please!