8 Key Ufc Viewership Statistics For Avid Sports Fans

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is one of the most exciting sports organizations in the world. Its blend of techniques and strategies from various martial arts makes for unpredictable and intense matchups. Fans get to see striking, grappling, courage, technique, conditioning, and more all rolled into one thrilling competition.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) began in the early 1990s with the first UFC event held on November 12, 1993. Since then, the sport has skyrocketed in popularity, even giving boxing a run for its money. A 2021 Harris Poll found that 33% of Americans said they are big boxing fans, while 30% called themselves big MMA fans.

If these viewership statistics are any indication, we may see MMA surpass boxing in the near future:


●   10.63% of 18-29-year-olds have ordered a UFC pay-per-view (PPV) event in the past 12 months

●   900,000 viewers watched UFC 251 in 2020 via ESPN+ subscription

●   40% of the UFC fanbase are millennials aged 18-34

●   UFC 243 in 2019 had the highest live attendance with over 57,000 fans

●   After the U.S., the top countries interested in UFC are Canada, the U.K., Germany, and Australia

●   UFC 229 earned a record $180 million in PPV revenue

●   Average UFC PPV buys in 2018 reached 447,000

●   UFC has increased PPV prices 4 times since partnering with ESPN in 2019

How Popular Is UFC Today?

While MMA still trails behind major U.S. sports like basketball and football, its popularity has exploded since UFC’s debut nearly 30 years ago. Names like Royce Gracie, Georges St-Pierre, Ronda Rousey, and Conor McGregor have become household names even among casual sports fans.

8 Key Ufc Viewership Statistics For Avid Sports Fans

The meteoric rise of UFC is clearly illustrated through these milestone events:

●   Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta purchased UFC for $2 million in 2001

●   The Fertitta brothers later sold UFC to Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG) for $4 billion in 2016

●   In 2018, UFC President Dana White claimed the company was now worth $7 billion

Additionally, UFC signed a $1.5 billion, 5-year broadcasting deal with ESPN.

The stats below on audience size, global reach, and PPV buys demonstrate the formidable sports entertainment empire that UFC has become.

UFC U.S. Audience Size

For major sports organizations, TV ratings are hugely important, as they often directly translate to advertising and merchandise revenue. Based on the viewership stats below, it’s clear that UFC has carved out a substantial space on American television:

1. 10.63% of 18-29-year-olds (over 5 million Americans) purchased a UFC PPV event in the past 12 months.
This coveted young adult demographic earns approximately $30,000 to $50,000 per year. Even with rising PPV prices ($74.99 in 2024, and $75.99 in 2024), they have the disposable income to purchase UFC events. With over 5 million buyers annually in this segment, PPV sales likely gross well over $400 million.

2. UFC 251 in July 2020 drew 900,000 U.S. viewers via ESPN+ subscription.
During pandemic shutdowns, UFC was the first major sport to resume competitions. While UFC 249 prelims were on ESPN and main cards on PPV, UFC 251 took place on UFC Fight Island and was exclusively on ESPN’s streaming service. 900,000 U.S. fans paid for the privilege of watching Usman vs. Masvidal.

Global UFC Popularity

As MMA organizations go, UFC has the strongest worldwide presence by far. They broadcast events to over 1 billion households in 195 countries and territories. The stats below demonstrate their formidable global fanbase:

8 Key Ufc Viewership Statistics For Avid Sports Fans

1. Millennials (aged 18-34) make up 40% of UFC fans worldwide.
Across their events and digital platforms, the largest share of UFC’s audience is young adults under 35. This gives them a key advantage over other major sports leagues like:

○   NFL – 34% millennial fans

○   NBA – 28% millennial fans

○   MLB – 17% millennial fans

2. UFC 243 in 2019 set the record for live attendance with 57,127 fans.
Held in Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, this stacked card was headlined by Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker for the unified middleweight championship. Adesanya won via 2nd-round KO in front of a roaring sold-out crowd. UFC pocketed $5.48 million in ticket sales from the historic event.

3. After the U.S., the countries most interested in UFC are Canada, U.K., Germany, and Australia.
According to website traffic on UFC.com, the U.S. unsurprisingly makes up almost 32% of visitors. Canada, U.K., Germany, and Australia trail as the next most engaged countries at 7.5%, 6.8%, 5.2% and 3.8% of traffic, respectively. UFC likely uses data like this to inform global expansion decisions.

UFC PPV Revenue

In 2024, ESPN will take over distribution of UFC’s lucrative PPV events in an extension of their broadcasting agreement. The stats clearly show why UFC PPV remains a major focus:

1. UFC 229 in 2018 set the record for PPV buys at 2.4 million, earning $180 million in revenue.
The bad blood between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov reached its peak at UFC 229. While Nurmagomedov won and infamously started a post-fight brawl, UFC was undoubtedly pleased with $180 million in gross PPV sales made the most lucrative event in MMA history.

2. Average yearly UFC PPV buys reached 447,000 in 2018.

8 Key Ufc Viewership Statistics For Avid Sports Fans

From 2011-2017, average buys floated around 400-500k. 2018 was a high point, driven by big draws like Khabib, McGregor, Stipe Miocic, Daniel Cormier, and others. For context, UFC only averaged 158,000 buys back in 2005 – demonstrating rapid growth.

3. Since 2019, UFC has raised PPV prices 4 separate times as part of its ESPN deal.
Longtime UFC fans recall when PPV events cost $54.99. However, since the landmark ESPN contract, prices have repeatedly increased from $59.99 in 2019 up to the current $74.99. Another hike to $75.99 was recently announced for 2024 events – frustrating some portion of UFC’s customer base.


Within just over 25 years, UFC has ascended from a niche sport once labeled “human cockfighting” into a hugely lucrative media franchise valued at over $7 billion.

These viewership statistics confirm UFC’s rising prominence versus boxing, cementing its place as arguably the premier combat sport in the world. Their loyal, young fanbase also sets them up nicely for continued expansion both in the U.S. and key international markets like Canada, U.K., Germany, and Australia in the years ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many UFC Events Per Year?

●   On average, UFC held about 40 events per year from 2012-2021. Numbers range between 31 to 46 events annually.

How Many MMA Fans Globally?

●   Estimates indicate over 300 million people follow MMA. Hot markets include U.S., Brazil, Russia, U.K.

Best Countries for MMA Talent?

●   U.S. has produced many UFC greats like Jon Jones and Frank Edgar. But Russia, Brazil, Canada, U.K. also boast elite MMA talent.

Who Has Most UFC Wins?

●   Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone has most UFC victories with 23 wins out of 37 Octagon appearances. He also holds the records for most head-kick finishes (6) and post-fight bonuses (18).

8 Key Ufc Viewership Statistics For Avid Sports Fans

UFC vs. ONE Championship Size?

While UFC and ONE Championship both stage MMA events globally, UFC does so on a much larger scale. UFC is worth approximately $10 billion while ONE Championship’s market cap sits around $1 billion by comparison.

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