An MMA league is a group that coordinates, governs, and controls events of various mixed martial arts competitions. MMA is a full contact, cage fighting sport that encompasses many forms of martial arts. The sport allows for various striking techniques as well as take-downs and grappling. Leagues are beneficial in this sport for coordinating and promoting worldwide events, mixing a series of fights into a single event. Rules for the fights are regulated by each league, so various techniques may be allowed in some and not others. Most leagues will classify its fighters into different levels and weight classes. Additionally, the prize money awarded to fighters and the policies regarding payouts will vary based on the league. Leagues also can enforce rules and punishments on fighters for violating policies such as anti-doping regulations.
Currently, the most popular MMA league is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The UFC is MMA's most popular and profitable league by far. The league itself is valued at over two billion dollars, making it the leading MMA league in the world. The UFC was founded and is based in the United States, but also hosts many global events and international fighters. The league's current president Dana White has emphasized global expansion over the past ten years, adding to the popularity of the league.
The UFC was founded in 1993 and has dealt with its fair share of difficulties. The league has passed through multiple owners and even had a bankruptcy scare in the early 2000's. The league also faced some controversy over the violent nature of the sport, leading to significant rule changes geared towards safety. Since these struggles, the league has bounced back extremely well to become the world's most successful MMA league to date. The UFC has hosted over 500 events in numerous countries and currently has a partnership with ESPN to broadcast future events across the globe.
Fighters in the UFC are categorized into 1 of 12 weight classes and are paid by the fight. They can also earn large win bonuses. Household names such as Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor are some of the league's most popular fighters, who have participated in UFC events on multiple occasions, bringing in millions of dollars in revenue.
Starting An MAA League
There is not a single and universal way to start an MMA league, as leagues can start in many different ways. However, the first step to beginning an MMA league is to ensure that you have a large audience that is easy to reach. In other words, a new MMA league will need a large amount of exposure and fans to get off the ground. This is the reason that hundreds of MMA leagues have failed in recent years. It is very difficult for new leagues to compete with the fanship of larger leagues such as the UFC.
If you are certain that your new MMA league will have a dedicated audience, the first step to beginning an MMA league is to secure enough funding. Any new MMA league will need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get itself started. Costs such as marketing the events, renting venues, and paying fighters require significant funding to afford. It is also important to find quality fighters to represent the league properly. Starting small is a great idea when beginning an MMA league as you can work with ameature fighters that don't require large amounts of prize money. Hopefully, the league and its fighters will grow together and attract more attention. In today's sports market, securing a media deal to broadcast the league's events will be critical to its survival. Considering all that goes into beginning a low-level MMA league, you will want to have delicate and detailed planning before starting this venture.
MMA League Seasons
Unlike most traditional sports, MMA leagues do not have seasons. Most sports will have a specific period of time dedicated to the regular season where events take place, as well as an off season where players have time off. Contrary to this model, MMA leagues take place all year-round. Since most MMA fighters will participate in only a few events each year, they do not need an off season to rest. MMA leagues purposely space out their events over a span of months to allow fighters time to rest, train, and prepare for each event.
The Ultimate Fighter, is a reality television series and competition produced by the UFC to showcase upcoming fighters and spread the popularity of MMA. It was created in 2005 and has put on 28 seasons up to this date.
Cost To Join
Before you join an MMA league, you must first train in MMA through a gym or trainer for months to years in advance, which is where most costs are incurred. Joining a gym or hiring a professional trainer will cost $40 an hour on average, but can be significantly more for high level trainers. After training to become skillful enough to compete in an MMA league, entry costs for each event can vary. Ameature MMA leagues generally have low entry costs, ranging from around $50 to $100. Bonuses and prize money will generally be awarded to participants after fighting events, so athletes will have the chance to earn their payment back.
In popular leagues like the UFC, fighters do not have to pay to enter the league but are actually paid as a result of the fight. Beginner UFC fighters can make as much as $10,000 per fight and all fighters are also eligible for win bonuses. The top MMA fighters such as Floyd Mayweather can make millions from a single fight. In smaller leagues other than the UFC, the payout will be significantly less.
Popular MMA Leagues
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the world's top MMA league by a large margin. The UFC is an American based league but reaches an international audience through heavy coverage from the mainstream media. The UFC also hosts many international events and fighters. Although the UFC is the clear leader in the industry, there are also many other MMA leagues currently thriving around the globe.
ONE Fighting Championship is based in Asia and due to partnerships with FOX and ESPN are able to have their fights broadcast globally, making them Asia's most popular MMA league. Titan Fighting Club is another professional MMA league based in the U.S.. It has grown significantly since 2015 and has begun expansion across North American while also acquiring a partnership with UFC to broadcast their fights via UFC's large network. Additional MMA leagues with top-notch competition and significant fan bases include Bellator MMA, Pancrase FC, Titan FC, the Professional Fighters League (PFL), and Strikeforce.