MMA “versus” Boxing

By Tom Donelson (BWAA) Member Boxing Writers Association of America and respected contributor to www.dmboxing.com since 2008

Boxing was once part of American landscape as big boxing matches competed with Baseball, Football and even basketball for the attention of American sports fans.  Muhammad Ali could sell more newspapers than the Boston Celtics in the mid 1960’s till near the end of the 1970’s.  Today Boxing is a second-tier sport, relegated to rarely mention on most sports network.  There are times that ESPN won’t even cover their boxing matches they broadcast, and they are probably the last cable network that televises boxing as most boxing is going the way of streaming and even Showtime last year said adios to boxing 트윗 덱 다운로드.

MMA has challenged boxing as the leading combat sports and for many fans, surpassed it. There is no doubt in this writer’s mind that MMA has done a better job of marketing its sports than boxing.  Buffalo Wild Wings in Cedar Rapids Iowa will feature  the UFC pay for view and when they do, they fill the bar/restaurant, and I can’t even remember the last time they ever did a boxing match PPV. 

Depending what data you use to judge popularity, there is no doubt there are data that shows that MMA is becoming more popular.  Most popular PPV event was Mayweather versus Pacquiao which drew nearly 5 million buys but that was in 2015 and while many boxing PPV appears to do was well as many MMA events, there are other ways to view the popularity of a sport in today’s world 올미다 다운로드.

In social media and in google trends shows that there is more interest in the MMA.  During 2021 UFC had a TV global reach of 259 million which placed it ninth and just below the NFL and NBA 다운로드.

  1. Tokyo Olympics 2020 — 1.47 billion
  2. UEFA EURO 2020 — 741 million
  3. UCL — 530 million
  4. ONE Championship — 406 million
  5. F1 — 368 million
  6. Bundesliga — 345 million
  7. NFL — 338 million
  8. NBA — 307 million
  9. UFC — 259 million
  10. EPL — 251 million

When it came to social media video views just as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Tik, UFC ranked fifth among major sporing

  1. NBA — 14.55 billion views
  2. ONE Championship — 13.84 billion views
  3. UEFA Champions League — 10.10 billion views
  4. NFL — 7.74 billion views
  5. UFC — 6.64 billion views
  6. F1 — 5.50 billion views
  7. MLB — 3.79 billion views
  8. EPL — 3.03 billion views
  9. UEFA EURO 2020 — 2.25 billion views
  10. MotoGP — 1.91 billion views

*Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok

Blacks have the most interest in the combat sports including boxing and MMA followed by Hispanics

  1. Black: 52%
  2. Hispanic: 50%
  3. Other: 37%
  4. White: 30%

In a 2023 study with over 2,000 respondents, the middle age group 35 to 44 showed the most interest in combat sports including UFC with the 18-34 following close behind.  In another study, the mixed martial arts targeted audience representing millennials made up the majority of fanbase with 41% 안드로이드 웹페이지 이미지 다운로드. This represents a growing audience in the future. 

Money is variable in both MMA and boxing and is dependent on factors including popularity, sponsors, and the match up.  Boxers have the opportunity to earn more, but overall MMA fighters have a better average income asp.net xlsx 다운로드.

The UFC payout scheme means a fighter can earn between 10,000 and 3,000.00 dollars and there is additional bonus like fight of the night  which can net fighters 50,000 dollars and there is extra money from sponsors. For many boxers, they start out with 200 to 1,000 dollars per fight and for many young fighters, their first ten fights will net little but on the other hand, Floyd Mayweather received millions of dollars in payouts and Canelo Alveraz is another who gets a nice pay out when he fights. 

In boxing, the average income is between 35 to 40,000 and the average UFC fighter can earn close to 150,000.  Boxing professional are paid per fight with the manager negotiating money and arranging opponents.  Many boxers can even earn only 200 dollars per fight, and many have other jobs, plus any injures in boxing impacts their ability to earn income.

Those at the top of the boxing world, the earnings can astronomical, and one example Floyd Mayweather took 150 million dollars when he fought Manny Pacquiao and Manny got a cool 100 million dollars and others on the card made considerably less. Boxers contribute to  their insurance, travel and training plus their trainers get a percentage of their income and a boxing manager in Nevada may obtain 33 percent of the take.  

Take the case of Andy Ruiz who earned 7 million dollars when he defeated Anthony Joshua and earned 10 million dollars in the rematch. Here is the rest of story, the fight before he defeated Joshua, Ruiz earned 200,000 dollars!

Here are ten of the top boxers earning:

  1. Floyd Mayweather 1.1 billion
  2. George Foreman 300 million
  3. Oscar De Lay Hoya 200 million
  4. Manny Pacquiao 200 million
  5. Lennox Lewis 135 million
  6. Sugar Ray Leonard 120 million
  7. Vitali Klitschko 65 million
  8. Anthony Joshua 65 million
  9. Muhammad Ali 50 million
  10. Marvin Hager 45 million

Here are ten of the top MMA fighters

  1. Conor McGregor 15,082,000
  2. Alistair Overeem 9,569, 500
  3. Khabib Nurmagomedov 8,680,000
  4. Anderson Silva 8,112,000
  5. Michael 7,135,000
  6. George St. Pierre 7,037,000
  7. Jon Jones 7,025,000
  8. Mark Hunt 6,304, 000
  9. Donald Cerrone 6,155,000
  10. Junior Dos Santos 5,970,000

As mentioned, UFC fighters earn money during fights including bonus for fight of the Night, performance of the night, sponsors just as Reebok add money to the fighters pocket as they wear the sponsors equipment and get a payout from them.  UFC fighters sign a contract for x amounts of fights and pay a fixed amount for every fight they participate inside the Octagon. UFC helps with training expenses.

If you compare the top earnings from the top boxers to their MMA counterpart, they earn far more but the average MMA fighter is earning more than their boxing counterpart and there is less of gap between the top fighters and those below them in the MMA than in boxing. 

Which leaves for combat fighters choices and why MMA is becoming more attractive.  If you are wrestler, martial artist or like Holly Holm, a boxer, MMA can match your skills and you can add the others.  A wrestler can learn to box or kick, a martial artist can learn to grapple unless he or she also has judo or other ground techniques, and a boxer can learn to kick and grapple like Holm.  So, MMA is designed for athlete with multiple combat skills and the pay may be better.  So, boxing may have a money problem where young boxers may go poor before they become good. 

Another aspect was that UFC continued to have programs during Covid while many boxing events were canceled so that MMA made a lot of ground and with ESPN support, UFC has a major network backing it.  Boxing has a few fights on ESPN but for the most part you have to have streaming services like DAZN to watch matches and many bouts are now PPV, but boxing needs more exposure. 

Can Boxing rebuild itself within a new generation?  My own suggestion begins with boxing promoters ensuring that young fighters not only have good coaching but help income that will mean some of the elites fighter give up some of their income for the better good to help build the next generation.  Another advantage is that UFC is the premier mixed martial arts division and if you are the UFC champion, you are the champion whereas WBO, IBF, WBA, and WBC have their own champions and we have can have as many as 68 champions and I doubt the top boxing writers could list who is champion in each of these sanctioning body. 

Dana White of UFC has proved to be superior in promoting his sport than the main promoters of boxing who seem to think of the next big fight but not beyond that.   

Footnotes

MMA vs Boxing – Which is More Popular? Simple Analysis – MMA Channel

UFC Vs Boxing Money: Who Does Earn More? (wayofmartialarts.com)

UFC Viewership Statistics: TV, Social & Audiences (mmahive.com)

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