Is Boxing Or MMA More Popular?

By Logan •  Updated: 12/20/21 •  4 min read

Boxing remains more popular than MMA and UFC in the commercial world, however, MMA gyms have become a more common sight than boxing gyms due to their more diverse skill set compared to boxing. 

Is Boxing Or MMA More Popular?

People have been debating the popularity of MMA and boxing for years now. As was evident in the recent bout between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, boxing remains hugely popular all over the world. 

Boxing also has a deep and rich history. From its early days of Jack Dempsey through to its glory days with Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the sport has been a part of our culture for a lot longer than MMA has. Boxing continues to rake in millions of dollars of revenue from its global audience and that shows no sign of changing. 

However, MMA (and in particular, UFC) has experienced a huge uptake in viewership and overall popularity. Thanks to fighters such as Brock Lesnar, Conor McGregor, and Ronda Rousey, MMA has become a mainstream sport that is watched all over the world. 

The Numbers Tell Us Boxing Still Rules 

If we look at the statistics of the highest-grossing PPV events, we’ll find that boxing still rules the land of combat sports. 

The event with the most PPV buys of all time, a 2015 fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, generated 4.6 million buys, more than double the most-bought UFC event. 

Lately, though, UFC PPVs have been outperforming boxing events and its continued momentum over the last few years does indicate that the pendulum of popularity could swing in favor of Dana White’s UFC promotion.

Only time will tell if UFC becomes more popular than boxing. There are signs to suggest this may happen, but keep in mind that the UFC has a different business model to boxing. 

There are a few reasons why UFCcould usurp boxing as the world’s most popular combat sport. Much like professional wrestling, UFC values fighters who sell merchandise and generate controversy. This brings increased attention to the brand and fight events. 

UFC is also considered easier to follow than boxing. This is because there is one undisputed champion at the top of the tree, whereas boxing has multiple champions from different federations. As a result, there are four champions who could claim they hold the World Heavyweight Title. 

Elite boxers tend not to fight each other, too. This is due to the influence of promoters wanting to protect their assets and being unable to risk the possibility of their champion losing. This means that a lot of top boxers fight people far below them in terms of skills and stature.

UFC, on the other hand, regularly showcases similarly matched athletes fighting in their primes. This is possible due to the lack of competition from other companies and the lack of outside influence from promoters and managers. 

MMA is also more helpful as a self-defense tool. Not only will people learn striking but they will also learn grappling, wrestling, and submission holds which are more effective, and safer, ways of protecting yourself than knocking someone out. 

Boxing Rules…For Now

The numbers and stats tell us that boxing still reigns supreme over MMA and UFC. However, there are plenty of signs that this may change in the next few years due to UFC’s massive following and its less complicated nature. 

Who knows what the landscape of combat sports will look like in a few years’ time. Maybe MMA will finally take the mantle boxing has held for so long?


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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