Ultimate Fighting Championship has other sports in a choke hold, topping the list of sports gaining interest in Canada,
Sports fans were asked whether their interest in various sports had increased, decreased or remained the same for the study, part of Ipsos Reid’s Canadian Sports Monitor.
The proportion of fans that are gaining interest is higher for the UFC than more than 30 other sports and sporting events included in the survey like hockey and the Olympics.
Many UFC fans (39%) say their interest has increased in the past few years. Just 25% of NHL fans, 22% of CFL fans, and 14% of NBA fans say their interest in those leagues has gone up.
“What it suggests to us is once people tune into the UFC and begin to learn more about it, they develop a greater appreciation for it than... for all other sports right now,” said John Mohler, associate vice-president, Ipsos Reid.
Two in 10 Canadian adults (22%) are interested in the UFC, saying they are casual (16%) or avid (6%) fans of the sport, according to the study. The popularity of UFC still trails established sports leagues like the NHL, NBA and MLB with 70%, 26% and 38% interest respectively.
Predictably, the UFC tends to be more appealing to a younger, male demographic. Approximately one in three Canadian males say they are at least casual fans of the sport.
Though the UFC has fewer female followers, it has made strides across both genders. Among its current fans, 40% of men stated their level of interest increased, while 38% of women said the same.
This could stem from the success of Canadian fighters like world welterweight champion, Georges St Pierre, who is appearing in Gatorade’s national “G” campaign in the U.S.
Other sports gaining popularity include:
• Poker, 34% of fans are more interested than before
• Major Leauge Soccer (MLS), 27% of fans are more interested than before
• FIFA World Cup soccer, 27% of fans are more interested than before
Conversely, sports losing popularity include:
• Professional wrestling, 36% of fans are less interested than before
• Formula One racing, 30% of fans are less interested than before
• Boxing, 23% of fans are less interested than before
The study was released yesterday, three days before the UFC 100 event at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas. Tickets for Saturday’s event are sold out, with prices ranging from $100-$1,000. The event will be shown on pay-per-view.
The poll was conducted between May 20 and 29, and is based on 2,000 online interviews.
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