Arguably, few sports can trace their roots back as far as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), with associated disciplines having been initially practiced at the ancient Olympic Games in 648 BCE.

The concept of MMA has also gained immense popularity more recently, thanks to the emergence of variable fighting styles and lucrative tournaments such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Such popularity has also translated into new betting markets and an increase in the number of wagers placed across the board, but why exactly has MMA wagering become so commonplace in recent times?

The Impact of UFC and Conor McGregor

Until 2014, MMA and the UFC remained relatively understated, with the discipline lacking the glitz, glamour and wider appeal of international boxing.

However, the sport began to explode at this time, with the work of UFC President Dana White finally translating into increased viewership, lucrative sponsorship deals and the successful promotion of two key fighters.

These were Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, whose narratives, achievements and larger-than-life personas have transcended the sport and helped to generate huge numbers in PPV sales.

In particular, McGregor has been involved in many of the UFC’s most generative fights, with the standout being the Irishman’s bitter duel with Khabib Nurmagomedov on October 6th, 2018. Khabib’s comprehensive fourth-round submission win, which preceded an ugly brawl as long standing tensions boiled over, earned an impressive 2.4 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys, making UFC 229 the most watched iteration in history.

Interestingly, McGregor also features in the next five most generative PPV contests in the UFC, including similarly heated contests with Dustin Poirer (1.6 million buys), Nate Diaz (1.6 million), Donald Cerrone (1.35 million), Diaz again (1.317 million) and Eddie Alvarez (1.3 million).

As for the trail-blazing Rousey, she has also set PPV records while arguably increasing the size and diversity of the wider UFC audience during the last seven years.

Her stellar clash and shock defeat to Holly Holm at UFC 193 generated 1.1 million views in November 2015, for example, while her subsequent fight with Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 delivered an identical buy-rate a little over 12 months later.

Increased UFC Payments and the Rise of New MMA Betting Markets

In terms of transcending MMA, McGregor has also done a great deal of good for the UFC by dueling with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in August 2017. Since then, an increasing number of punters have searched for the best UFC betting sites as the sports popularity has continued to rise.

While the boxing bout was derided by many at the time, the fight’s star-power and a protracted, heated build-up saw a tremendous buzz generated throughout the media. This translated into a staggering 4.3 million PPV buys, with this only bettered by Mayweather’s previous clash with Manny Pacquiao in 2015 (4.6 million).

This has also helped to increase the wider popularity of MMA and the UFC, while precipitating a hike in the average earnings of fighters in recent times.

For example, the typical UFC competitor earned an average of $147,965 in 2020, with this up incrementally from the previous years’ figure of $146,673.

This is expected to increase further in the years ahead, as the UFC becomes an increasingly lucrative tournament that generates interest and rising income levels through inflated gates, television viewership and international wagers.

Rising viewership is definitely important, as we know sports fans are inclined to wager on matches and action as it unfolds in real-time. At the same time, operators have responded to this by increasing the range of betting markets available to fighters, particularly from the perspective of in-play options and covering a wider range of MMA tournaments.

So, in addition to selecting the winner of a particular fight and the method of victory, you can also engage in round betting and a host of similarly inventive markets to help you make the most of your bankroll.

Each of these factors have combined to make MMA and its trail-blazing UFC tournament increasingly popular in recent times, especially from the perspective of global betting markets.

This trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon either, particularly with the savvy Dana White at the helm and mixed martial arts now competing with boxing on the global landscape.




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