A few years ago, Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, was almost unheard of by most people, even die-hard sports fans. 

Today, it’s one of the world’s fastest-growing sports and while UFC is still not as popular as boxing, with 15 of the top 50 pay-per-view slots to boxing’s 25, it is catching up.

So, what’s behind the rising appeal of UFC? Here are some of the reasons it’s becoming a popular spectator sport and gaining fans around the world.

Fighters Are Becoming Celebs

Today’s UFC fighters are much more than just brawn in the ring: they’re also personalities outside it, which makes their fights more popular. As this sports streaming infographic from ExpressVPN shows, UFC streaming is driven by top fighters such as Conor McGregor in the US and Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UK. Fighters are becoming well-known outside of their fights, which is leading more people to watch UFC to see their favorite celeb battle it out.

Stars From Other Areas Are Influencing Followers

The power of celebrity is incredibly strong, and as more stars are enjoying UFC, more of their fans are checking it out to be like their beloved idols. Many celebs from all walks of life are UFC fans, including Madonna, Idris Elba, David Beckham, Snoop Dogg and more. These stars often post about UFC on social media or mention it in interviews, which helps the sport to gain traction among a broad range of new spectators. 

Participants Are Equally Diverse

It’s not just fans of UFC who are diverse: participants are also of all ages, sizes, genders and races. UFC is an intense sport that attracts a lot of fighters from various backgrounds, which helps spectators to find someone they can relate to, no matter who they are or where they come from. UFC has been diverse since its inception, unlike other sports that began as elitist contests and remain inaccessible for those who don’t have a lot of money, such as Polo or skiing. UFC has fighters from all backgrounds, which makes it a great watch for everyone, which is driving its popularity ratings up. 

UFC Is Easy to Understand and Follow 

Some sports have hundreds of rules and various scenarios that can earn different points. The rules of UFC are simple and easy to understand: every fighter is put into a weight class and has to wear regulation clothes. There’s a ref present to deal with all that before the fight, so all viewers need to watch out for is any unauthorized behavior, such as hair-pulling or eye-gouging. The fighter who is still standing at the end of the match is the winner unless the ref makes a decision that a participant wasn’t fighting fair. Viewers don’t have to learn dozens of complex rules to understand UFC, making it a fun and engaging sport to watch. 

For fans of MMA and combat sports, UFC has always been on our radar, but as this article shows, it’s becoming more mainstream now. That means even more coverage on TV and online, as well as greater opportunities to watch live fights!