Can MMA topple Soccer/Icehockey?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport in the world. Considering that all possible sporting competitions already have been discovered there is not much to compete with in terms of growth, but MMA has been around for a long time, it just never received the level of attention as it is now. But will it ever become bigger than soccer or icehockey?

There are several problems that are hindering the growth of MMA. The first and probably biggest one is: laws. MMA is still illegal in a lot of places and when it’s illegal it cannot be shown or performed in that location, obviously, and with such restrictions it cannot expand and grow to a global level like soccer has.  This is changing though, and MMA is becoming legal in more and more places, and just recently one particularly notable state that sanctioned MMA this year was New York. In due time, thanks to more restrictive rules and fighter protection, MMA will be allowed in more and more places and it become bigger and bigger.

But the problems do not end there for MMA. Oh no, there still is one major problem: the time between each fight. What am I talking about? Well, some fighters only fight once per year and let’s face it, the soccer, football, icehockey, and basketball teams play more than one game per year. I am not saying that people only have one favorite fighter and that he happens to be one of the few that only appears once a year, but with a maximum of one to two events per month, you’ll have to have a lot of favorite fighters to follow the events twice a month and see one of your favorites fight. This I believe is a major setback for the sport because nobody wants to wait half a year to see their absolute favorite fighter fight again. Lakers fans see Kobe Bryant weekly, Real Madrid fans see Cristiano Ronaldo several times per week. What if your favorite fighters are Frank Mir, Forrest Griffin, and Shane Carwin? Well, these fighters fight roughly twice a year and that is no fun for you as a fan. You will most likely only end up watching maybe four or five MMA events the entire year. Why do you have to wait so long to see your favorite fighters fight? There are several reasons. Medical reasons as the Athletic Commission issues suspensions that UFC/Strikeforce cannot fight or shorten, then there are contract issues, fighter’s health concerns and fitness concerns, along with some injuries that frequently occur and last much longer than injuries in soccer. These are all factors that are contributing to the low number of appearances and most of them cannot be improved.  If we take a look at soccer and my favorite team, AC Milan, they play at least once a week and sometimes three times a week depending on Champions League and the Italian Cup. Now that is a solid number. I know that from September to May I can expect to see my favorite team and players on a weekly basis. Great. What about UFC? Can I expect to see Brock Lesnar on a weekly basis? No. Monthly? No. Bi-monthly? No. I can probably expect him once every six months, and that my friends is a fundamental blocking stone for MMA. These fighters are out there fighting much too rarely.

So, can MMA topple soccer and take the number one spot, or maybe icehockey and take the number two spot? I don’t see it happening in the coming 50 years unless we see the sport sanctioned worldwide and more appearances of the champions such as Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Brock Lesnar, and BJ Penn and of course, future champions. Don’t get me wrong, I love MMA and in fact, it has become my absolute favorite sport. I watch more MMA than I do soccer, actually. Despite the fact that soccer is on weekly with my favorite team and my second and third favorite as well. And all this while MMA only comes on twice a month, last year it was only once a month. I watch roughly four soccer matches per month, sometimes less and sometimes more depending on work etc., and my MMA count goes up to maybe 10 MMA fights per month.  But I rarely get to see my absolute favorite fighters whilst with soccer my favorites are on all the time. Does that make soccer more exciting? To me no, because fighting is the most fascinating thing in the world in eyes, but I am certain that for a vast majority of sports fans, it would make soccer more enjoyable. 

Needless to say, MMA still has a long way to go before it will be competing with soccer and icehockey in terms of number of views and mainstream popularity. Add to the fact that some consider it to be “violent” and “not a sport at all” and that of course is not helping at all. I don’t think MMA will ever become the world’s biggest sport and topple soccer, but I do think it will grow dramatically, just look at how the number of events shown have doubled in only one year and there are more new fighters now than ever. Also, MMA training centers are opening all over the world in different countries more than ever and faster than ever. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe MMA will be the most dominant sport shown on Sky Sports and ESPN and soccer, basketball, and icehockey will crumble together in the background, who knows? Anything can happen.

The man responsible for MMA’s growth over these past few years. Mr. Dana White.

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One Response to “Can MMA topple Soccer/Icehockey?”

  1. jajaj Says:

    Sure all those brazilian kids leave football behind and start fighting in streets to becoma mma champions.. does anybody really believe that?

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