will mma ever be as big as boxing

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and boxing are two popular combat sports that have captivated audiences around the world. While boxing has a long-standing history and a massive fan base, MMA has gained significant popularity in recent years. This article will explore various aspects to determine if MMA will ever be as big as boxing.

1. Global Reach and Popularity

Boxing has a rich history and is deeply rooted in many cultures worldwide. It has been a staple of the Olympic Games since 1904 and has produced legendary fighters such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. On the other hand, MMA, with its origins in Brazil and the United States, has rapidly expanded its global reach. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the premier MMA organization, has gained a substantial following in various countries. However, boxing’s historical significance and established fan base give it an edge in terms of global reach and popularity.

2. Revenue and Pay-Per-View (PPV) Sales

Boxing has traditionally been associated with high-profile fights and lucrative paydays for its top athletes. The “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao generated over $600 million in revenue. Similarly, the heavyweight bout between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder drew significant attention and financial success. While MMA has seen an increase in revenue and PPV sales, it has yet to reach the same level as boxing. The UFC’s biggest events, such as Conor McGregor’s fights, have generated substantial revenue, but it still falls short of boxing’s top-tier bouts.

3. Athlete Recognition and Superstars

Boxing has produced numerous iconic figures who have become household names. Fighters like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Mike Tyson are widely recognized even by those who are not avid boxing fans. MMA, on the other hand, has seen the rise of stars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, who have gained mainstream recognition. While these MMA fighters have made significant contributions to the sport’s popularity, they have yet to match the level of recognition enjoyed by boxing legends.

4. Media Coverage and Exposure

will mma ever be as big as boxing

Boxing has historically received extensive media coverage, with major fights being broadcasted on mainstream television networks. The sport has had long-standing partnerships with networks such as HBO and Showtime. MMA, while gaining more media coverage in recent years, still relies heavily on pay-per-view and its own dedicated platforms like UFC Fight Pass. Boxing’s broader exposure through traditional television networks contributes to its larger audience and wider recognition.

5. Cultural and Historical Significance

Boxing has deep cultural and historical significance in many countries. It has been a part of various cultural traditions and has served as a vehicle for social mobility for many fighters. MMA, being a relatively young sport, is still in the process of establishing its cultural and historical significance. While it has gained a passionate following, it has yet to match the cultural impact and historical legacy of boxing.

6. Rules and Regulations

Boxing’s rules and regulations are well-established and widely understood by both casual viewers and enthusiasts. The sport’s simplicity allows for easy accessibility and understanding. MMA, on the other hand, incorporates various disciplines such as boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and wrestling, which can be more complex for some viewers to grasp. The complexity of MMA’s rules and regulations may hinder its potential to reach the same level of popularity as boxing.

7. Gender Equality and Inclusivity

MMA has made significant strides in promoting gender equality and inclusivity compared to boxing. The UFC has showcased female divisions and fighters like Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, who have become global stars. Boxing, although it has seen notable female fighters like Claressa Shields, has not achieved the same level of gender equality and inclusivity as MMA. This aspect of MMA may contribute to its potential for future growth and popularity.


While MMA has experienced remarkable growth and popularity in recent years, it still has some ground to cover to reach the same level as boxing. Boxing’s historical significance, global reach, revenue generation, and established superstars give it an advantage. However, with the continued rise of MMA’s popularity, its potential for gender equality, and the sport’s ability to captivate new audiences, it is not impossible for MMA to eventually become as big as boxing in the future.

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