This post is an entry for our $25,000 scholarship contest. The post was created by Nathan Martinez and may not always reflect the views of JW Surety Bonds.
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”– Bruce Lee
In the 1960’s, Bruce Lee came onto the world scene with his incredible fighting style, physique, and general philosophy. Lee created his own martial art technique known as Jeet Kune Do, or “The way of the intercepting fist.” His technique employed a variety of different martial art techniques, styles, and schools, by taking the best from each philosophy and translating it into his own. Lee was noted for his in-depth research into these different ideologies not only in studying it, but in physically testing everything in order to make it his own. This fusion of different fighting styles is the general principle behind what we call Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA.
MMA could still be an underground sport with little to no connection to the general public, however, in 2001, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, burst onto the scene with new owners and a new business model. The new owners took the failing business and made it into what it is today:
- The world’s largest promoter of MMA with over a billion fans.
- The world’s largest pay-per-view provider.
- The world’s fastest growing sport.
The UFC’s growing popularity seems to be unmatched in many ways: with a fan base of over a billion, Repucom, a sports marketing research firm, estimates that the UFC is more popular than Major League Baseball on a worldwide scale. This popularity gives rise to many of the institutions that the UFC has created such as their own gym franchise, along with their own clothing and athletic equipment lines. However, the UFC’s popularity does not only stem from avid fans, but influential athletes that fans can look up to, such as Anderson Silva, the sixth most popular athlete in his home country of Brazil, ranking ahead of Michael Jordan.
The UFC hosts over 40 live events annually in cities from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi, all being either directly televised on a FOX network or through pay-per-view (PPV). The UFC is the world’s largest provider of pay-per-view material: beginning at only 75,000 PPV subscribers for their first PPV fight in 2001 to having over a million subscribers in the Weidman vs. Silva in 2013. Between 2007-2009, in the turmoil of the most devastating financial crisis since the Great Depression, the UFC PPV subscriptions hit record numbers, several in the millions, and their fan base increased by 14%, while in comparison to the “Big Four” sports (football, baseball, basketball, and soccer), who had a 5% decrease, on average, to their fan bases. In 2011, the UFC signed a contract with FOX Sports Media Group for a landmark seven year agreement. This agreement included four televised live events annually with additional events and hours of UFC content on FOX’s subsequent networks.
As the UFC grows in popularity throughout the world with televised live events on a major network, MMA fighting is only set to become more popular. The UFC allows for MMA to be one of the most accessible sports in the world:
- It’s televised on the biggest sports network in world: FOX.
- The UFC is the largest provider of pay-per-view in the world.
- The UFC’s website is accessed by tens of millions of fans annually.
- UFC executives are followed more on social media sites like Twitter than any other sport’s executives are.
The UFC has created a business model for all sport promoters to follow.
“If you take four street corners, and on one they are playing baseball, on another they are playing basketball and on the other, street hockey. On the fourth corner, a fight breaks out. Where does the crowd go? They all go to the fight.”- Dana White