Since the multi-billion dollar purchase of the UFC by WME/IMG, a diverse and growing roster along with increasing regulations has brought MMA into the mainstream media.
The UFC has boomed in popularity because of its fighters and the diversity in the fight game. MSN says, “Just like any other global sport, MMA is not restricted to any single country or gender. In the UFC alone, there are fighters from from all corners of the world…” With super stars like Georges St. Pierre from Canada or Anderson Silva from Brazil, there is a worldly found base.
The UFC’s rise in recent years can also be attributed to opening to both genders. A sport once dominated by men now has three weight classes for women’s mixed martial artists. James McDonald from Bleacher Report attributed the rapid growth of women’s MMA to the success of Ronda Rousey. Rousey was dominate and charismatic, the perfect combination to lead a new division of women. The UFC has also marketed and promoted the women’s divisions equally to the men’s, being very successful and drawing in more and more fans.
The promotion has reached its popularity today through many stars including Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar, and Ronda Rousey. Alan Dawson from Business Insider makes the point that the popularity from fighters like these not only break through the world of MMA, but they contest Hollywood and other sports. Conor McGregor is on the top paid athletes Forbes list and is known to millions. He is known world wide; even those who do not pay attention to the sport.
This has been caused by fighters becoming personal with the fans. Through twitter and other social media platforms, fighters interact with their audience, creating a persona that isn’t just in the octagon. Fox Sports described that the show “The Ultimate Fighter,” brought lots of attention to the UFC because it connected the audience personally to the athletes. Many of the UFC’s top promotions would come from the Ultimate Fighter, creating personal fan bases inside the UFC.
Since buying the UFC for 4.4 billion dollars, WME/IMG has pushed to create a larger roster, promote fighters to stardom, and create more events than ever before. Now legal in New York, the UFC is growing even larger. Fox Sports writes, “The dizzying levels of popularity it has achieved resulted in New York, the last state in which MMA was illegal, finally lifting the ban.” With UFC 205 New York being one of the largest pay-per-view to date, WME has many opportunities to create super shows.