How Else Can UFC Grow?
Heading into the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight last fall, an article noted that mixed martial arts was once destined to remain in the sporting shadows. Many of us can remember those days, when MMA was more or less outlawed (banned in over 30 states) and viewed as barbaric. But UFC has changed all of that, bringing an air of legitimacy that, as the same article noted, has helped it to become one of the fastest growing sports – perhaps on its way to becoming what boxing was 30 year ago.
Now that UFC has reached this level of legitimacy though, fans sometimes wonder how else it can continue to grow. One answer might just be that it still has upward trajectory and will continue to grow naturally; another might be that perhaps it’s nearing its natural cap – which would be just fine. But there seem to be a few specific factors that could still boost the sport as well.
Conor McGregor’s decision to box against Floyd Mayweather promoted UFC arguably more than any single event ever had before. Even competing in a different sport, McGregor brought a huge spotlight to his own – and it certainly didn’t hurt that he actually made a fight of it, or at least more of one than most people expected. We don’t know exactly what’s next for McGregor, but he’s now in a position to continue to promote UFC through his own events and antics, and the broader sports world is ready to watch whatever he gets up to. He’s not the best fighter in UFC history and may not even be the biggest name, but he’s probably the most valuable promoter outside of Dana White himself.
As much promotional power as McGregor has, Mayweather is still the more famous and accomplished athletes. And he’s actually been teasing a possible UFC fight. There’s nothing in the works officially, as far as we know, but if he were to enter the octagon it would unquestionably be the biggest event in the sport’s history. Plus, given that he’d be quite far out of his element, it would give an MMA fighter the chance to get a massively publicized victory. If Mayweather fights McGregor specifically in the octagon, we might have to rethink our ideas as to the ceiling of UFC as a major sport.
Because UFC is primarily a U.S. sport and most states still prohibit sports betting, there’s a serious aspect to the sport that has yet to develop. Betting helps fans to feel like they’re part of the action, and generally leads to more engagement wherever it’s available. On the plus side, multiple states are desperately trying to legalize themselves according to one overview of gambling and betting activity in the U.S. That seems to imply this is another avenue for growth. If sports betting becomes more widely available in the U.S., more and more people will become interested in UFC from a betting standpoint, which could certainly boost the sport.
Improved Streaming Access
UFC Fight Pass and UFC TV make for excellent apps and programs for fans to use. Modern sports need to be streamable to keep up with cord-cutting audiences, so these services aren’t just convenient, but vital. That said, they’re actually somewhat under-publicized. If UFC can figure out a way to make these services more popular and perhaps even cheaper, it will go a long way toward roping in more casual fans. It’s just a hunch, but there’s a good chance there are plenty of sports fans who would be interested in downloading a cheap UFC streaming service just to check out the sport. Many would keep watching.
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