How MMA conquered boxing and Hollywood

by James Luxford | source:

Twenty years ago, boxing reigned unopposed as the most popular fight sport in the world, with champion pugilists up there with Hollywood A-listers in the celebrity stakes (where some still linger, as Mike Tyson's cameos in the Hangover films surely attest).

Today's boxers, however, have been overshadowed by a new heavyweight sport - mixed martial arts (MMA). A controversial fringe sport during the 1990s, it gained popularity in the new century, thanks largely to its most popular organisation, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Its regular pay-per-view events have surged in popularity, with contests held all over the world (including Abu Dhabi for the 2010 event, "UFC 112").

Because of this and the popularity of its spin-off reality show The Ultimate Fighter (a contest to find new MMA talent), the more popular fighters from UFC have found fame outside of the sport. With athletes appearing in television shows and big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, and as the MMA-themed drama Warrior shows on cinema screens across the Emirates, what is it about this new breed of fighter that has the public so fascinated?

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Recent Comments »

stonepony site profile image  

12/26/11 10:06 PM by stonepony

Ask the average American or Canadian under 45 if they can name more boxing title holders or more MMA title holders. The HW boxing champion was always a household name, until MMA. Ask people who the HW champion is today, and they'll shrug, or guess Lennox Lewis. MMA hasn't been around long, and already owns something like 16 of the top 20 all-time PPV records. The couple from boxing are Tyson fights, and De Lahoya.Boxing tends to take one or two PPV's of the top-10, because there are so few big names left, so few relevant fights, that the sales are condensed in to those one or two worthwhile events every year. It's been that way for a few years now, and the gulf between the two sports is only growing wider...In 2008, two of the top-10 PPV's for North America were boxing. Seven of the top-10 were UFC. And those few remaining boxers with a marketable name, aren't being replaced as they retire.

CAINtheBULL site profile image  

12/26/11 3:01 AM by CAINtheBULL

Warrior... Unfair to compare Warrior to The Fighter. The Fighter came out first and it had two huge stars, Walberg and Bale, as the leads. Both are household names. Warrior had two mostly unknown leads and a faded star, Nick Nolte. The profile of the two projects were different. I suspect Warrior will do better in home video sales as word of mouth spreads. Just type in #Warrior on twitter and read what the public is saying about it. Very positive responses. PPV sales are down because of injuries. Brock - 2010 - UFC 116: 1,160,000 + UFC 121: 1,050,000 = 2,210,0002011 - UFC 140: PPV buys?GSP -2010: GSP vs. Hardy 770,000 + GSP vs. Koscheck 800,000 = 1,570,0002011: GSP vs. Shields 800,000GSP and Brock, at best, will produce half the PPV in 2011 vs 2010. 2010 (GSP + Brock) = 3,780,0002011 (GSP + Brock) = 1,800,000?Also, this year's Evans vs. Jackson (2010), Evans vs Jones, fell apart because of injuries. PPV prices went up.# of PPV events -2010: 162011: 15

TX_432 site profile image  

12/26/11 2:18 AM by TX_432

Trying to conquer more like it.

dennis5 site profile image  

12/26/11 2:15 AM by dennis5

LOL at "conquered"! Maybe one day, but certainly not yet. MMA still doesnt have a "household" name yet. Chuck Lidell was as close as it came, but no cigar. Dana White is probably more well known than most of his fighters.

mrwhipple site profile image  

12/26/11 1:01 AM by mrwhipple

Maybe I'm mistaken but aren't ppv sales down 40% this year? Didn't Warrior bomb? Didn't boxing have the 4 biggest selling fights of the year? Wasn't The Fighter the latest in a long line of successful boxing movies?I love MMA but it's funny much fans and media exaggerate it's popularity.

smoogy site profile image  

12/25/11 11:45 PM by smoogy

 2007 called, they want their boilerplate article about the explosion of MMA back

JeffersonDArcyChoke site profile image  

12/25/11 11:44 PM by JeffersonDArcyChoke

Yeah. Warrior totally garnered more press than The Fighter. Mmhmm. Yep. Sure.