Mixed Martial Arts has grown exponentially over the last decade. It’s a million miles away from the no-holds-barred combat sport it once was in the Gracie and Shamrock era during the inception of the UFC and sport in general. Now regulated, weight divisions, drug testing, rules, and mainstream crossover stars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor spearheading the growth of the sport, MMA has grown immeasurably since its humble beginnings.
With the increase in popularity, the sport has also seen a rise in participation globally. Specialist MMA gyms have popped up all around the world, and coverage is now being shown on tastemakers like Fox Sport and other cable channels for a wider audience to consume.
The sport has also been lauded for helping people turn their lives around. The life of a mixed martial artist is one that promotes clean living, and whether it’s getting kids off the street or getting someone to eat healthy and increasing their overall wellbeing, like documented in Tom Nguyen’s previous post on ‘Back to Eating Healthy’ here on Fightaholic, the results have been proven over time.
One variable, which has definitely helped grow the sport over the last couple of years, is the digital content now available to casual and hardcore fans. Vast resources have been made available, and MMA fans – regardless of their favorite discipline are able to access content online. You only have to look at the UFC’s Fight Pass to see what the modern day MMA fan is afforded.
UFC Fight Pass was launched in 2013, and has been a great success for the company even though just last month Eric Winter (the brains behind the digital subscription service of late) resigned citing family reasons, according to MMA Junkie. The service offers subscribers a wide range of martial arts as well as an insight into the athletes’ lives, their nutrition and workouts, along with the history of the sport. Fight Pass has become a full media platform and digital channel that brings the best content to MMA fans across the globe. It also doubles up as an educational platform whereby it helps people gain knowledge on the sport, and also the various facets of its culture.
Fight Pass has bought the rights to many of the other organizations across the world – whether it is old promotions such as the legendary PRIDE, grappling tournaments or partnering with all women’s organization Invicta FC, Fight Pass has certainly got its finger on the pulse.
When Fight Pass was launched it was hot on the heels of the WWE Network, which now has over 1 million monthly subscribers. Although Fight Pass hasn’t reached the same milestone, the strides it made under the stewardship of Eric Winter has meant the digital content channel faces a bright future.
Also, Fight Pass works very closely with the UFC’s main website UFC.tv and all of its other releases such as the EA Sports UFC game which has been released on Xbox and PlayStation featuring the aforementioned Rousey and McGregor on the cover. With pop culture taking games like the UFC 2 to their hearts, it has shown that by the UFC aligning all of its digital media releases, the brand is as strong as ever.
Combat sports games have always faired well in the gaming industry regardless of whether they focus on modern day combat or look back at where pugilism first began to be popular. UFC 2 went on to sell 618,000 copies in its first couple of months – a commendable number but some way off the likes of popular franchises Madden and FIFA. One area the UFC hasn’t ventured into yet, is online gaming. Currently, the landscape is full of throwback combat games focusing on the likes of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee which was launched by gaming giant Slingo. This industry is probably next on the UFC’s radar as it looks to increase revenue after the recent sale, as well as put the brand in front of as many eyes as possible. It’s also possible that if they do venture into online games that they could eventually be hosted and accessed via Fight Pass – making everything accessible under one platform.
As the UFC looks for global domination after the $4 billion sale to WME-IMG, and the new owners look at ways to recoup their investment, Fight Pass is certainly somewhere that they will look for other avenues to build the brand and maximize revenue. The need to continue reaching new markets is important and means Fight Pass can offer newcomers to the sport a wonderful intro into MMA and how truly big the sport has become. Who knows, in the coming years, MMA could join Basketball, Baseball, Football and Hockey making it a Big 5 not a Big 4. But for now, digital content will be a huge driver in the sport’s success over the coming years.
To keep up to date with what’s new on Fight Pass check the official website. Fight Pass is available for $9.99 per month at UFC.tv.