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, MMAPayout.com 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.