Future of MMA and eSports The MMA Corner Staff February 17, 2020 News MMA and eSports are two distinctly different kinds of sports. One is a close-contact fighting and brawling sport while the other encompasses absolutely no physical contact between opponents, and everything is mediated digitally through computers. It would be pretty reasonable to think that these two do not have anything in common, apart from simply being competitive sports. Nonetheless, recent trends suggest a completely different view on the relationship between two kinds of sports. Some real-life events and developments in the sports field provide solid grounds to think that MMA and eSports will have an almost intimately close relationship in the future. What are we talking about? Here are some points to support such ideas. MMA in Video Games Over the years of video games existing, it seems as if every aspect of human life has been portrayed. As of now, you can play pretty much anything from Surgeon Simulator to Grand Theft Auto to Gran Turismo, and so on. Of course, MMA has a place in video games too. The two most popular MMA-based video games were: EA MMA This was one of the biggest hits with the gaming community. Of course, the game was made by the biggest sports video game development company ever. This game allowed you to take on the role of an MMA fighter and jump in the ring. Back when the game came out: it was revolutionary because it stepped away and distinguished itself from all of the boxing video games that came out before. However, in retrospect, the game’s controls and general feel lacked, but it gave birth to something absolutely new. EA MMA was so successful that it attracted new players who were not even MMA fans in real life. This game created new fans of MMA and paved the road for MMA’s introduction and integration into the world of gaming. UFC Undisputed 3 This MMA-themed game picked off where EA MMA did not perform well. This installment in the series perfected the formula to bring new MMA fans and even more MMA entertainment. The gameplay in it was spectacular. UFC Undisputed 3 rises above and absolutely trumps EA MMA. Each of the fighter’s moves was carefully designed, a new footwork aspect was added to the game; the submission system was completely revamped. This game was a masterpiece of MMA realism. This game continued to recruit new MMA fans. There were so many fans that UFC Undisputed 3 was part of numerous eSports tournaments, and an impressive number of competitive players competed for monetary and other prizes. These two video games were the cream of the crop in the MMA field. However, EA MMA came out in 2010 and UFC Undisputed 3 in 2012. The fans are eagerly waiting for new installments, but game development companies have not yet paid attention to this. Companies Are Starting to Notice the Overlap in Fans ONE Championship, formerly known as ONE Fighting Championship, is a company from Singapore that hosts tournaments for MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. At least, this was the case until 2019, as seen on eSports Observer. In 2018 the company stated that they would expand into new territory in 2019. With the new territory being the world of eSports, they have initially invested up to $50M in the eSports initiative. But after that, the company was able to rake in from key partners, stakeholders, and fundraisers a sum greater than $1B, creating, as a result, ONE eSports. Whether it was the popularity of MMA games or the fact that both of the eSports and MMA fan’s demographics are very similar, the fact stays the same. There is a big overlap in eSports fans and MMA fans, and companies like ONE Championship are taking notice of it. MMA Professional Fighters Are Gamers Too Another factor that contributes to eSports and MMA being more and more intertwined is the fact that many professional MMA fighters are gamers and are talking openly about it. In fact, the fighters believe that eSports will overtake every other type of sport in popularity. According to The Sun, Demetrious Johnson indicated in an interview that he is a passionate player of World of Warcraft. He likes spending hours in that world between his training sessions. Actually, as of late, Demetrious is spending more time on gaming and streaming rather than on training for fights. eSports and MMA Are Decrowning Football Although it may seem like eSports is confidently sprinting towards the title “Number One Sport,” in terms of economics and market share, eSports and MMA currently have the same rate of growth. eSports’ revenue has seen an impressive leap simply due to eSports being such a new field. As seen on the BBC, eSports’ significant revenue and audience base are stopping to grow so rapidly. However, it does not mean that it will stop growing. When looking at the projected figures, you can see that the betting scene on eSports and MMA will soon match up and top the football betting scene. This moment will be monumental, as it will designate the start of the end for football. Many believe that football’s popularity will start to decline as eSports and MMA will gain even more prominence. Future Possibilities According to Alex Kapinski, from NJGamblingFun: “All signs seem to point to the tight collaboration between the eSports and MMA worlds. As with the ONE Championship company, many other competitive initiatives will follow suit. Nobody will want to give up both of the markets.” It is hard not to agree with this point of view. The currently changing demographic skews the preferences away from football towards MMA and eSports. The overlap in fans will be only increasing, and joint events will start to pop up. Summing Up Some kind of connection is about to appear between eSports and MMA. With so many points of correlation, it is hard to envision a future where MMA and eSports are not intertwined. Still, to see whether all predictions will come true, we will have to wait and observe.