The popularity of MMA/UFC has been growing massively over the last decade. Nine UFC events managed to sell more than one million pay-per-views. There is no doubt in the fact that these numbers will keep rising.
Boxing is another combat sport that is more popular than MMA, but not for long, according to the stats. Boxing viewership has been idle for a long time as opposed to MMA.
Boxing has been the best combat sport(especially in terms of sales) for a long time. However, UFC/MMA is narrowing down the gap to dethrone boxing.
What do the numbers say?
Numbers depict that boxing is still on the top of the list. Boxing is earning more in viewership and PPV sales over the last two decades. Data shows that from the best 50 PPV sales ever, MMA had 15, WWE had 9, but boxing had 25.
UFC 229(Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor) was the biggest MMA event that sold around 2.4 million pay-per-view buys for $180 million approx. Boxing has four better(financially) events than UFC 229, which sold more PPV buys. Boxing also has several events that sold well over 1 million pay-per-views.
Boxing leads the race, but it can change quickly. Since the rise of Rona Rousey and Conor McGregor, MMA sales and views have exploded.
The popularity of MMA has grown massively since then.
In the last five years, nine UFC events sold over 1 million pay-per-views worldwide. Boxing had ten events that sold over 1 million pay-per-views. Boxing fans might see it as a win, but in my opinion, the UFC is getting close.
The accessibility factor will be a tie because you can access both sports by buying a pay-per-view. You can use any platform like Amazon Firestick, Roku devices, smartphones, smart TVs, laptops, or PCs to watch MMA and boxing.
I recommend using Firestick because you can download the UFC app from the Amazon store. After installing, you can purchase a subscription to stream all UFC events.
You can also use several other options to stream the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Firestick. You can use paid apps like ESPN+ and DAZN and unpaid apps and add-ons to stream live sports events for free.
The difference in weight classes
There are seventeen weight classes in boxing. The difference between all divisions is three to seven pounds only. However, MMA has eight weight classes. The difference between all divisions is ten to twenty pounds in MMA.
Because of this low difference in weight, you can often see a good boxer holding five or six titles in different weight classes. But, MMA fighters can not do this often. It is easier to lose or gain 4-5 pounds than 10-20.
In my opinion, holding titles in different weight classes is somehow unfair. It is not ideal for sports because it stops young talented fighters from receiving the spotlight or winning medals.
It is also unfair in terms of the respective popularity of different weight classes. If a champion loses the title of a particular weight class, there is a strong chance that people will also lose interest in that weight class. It is not fair to other fighters.
UFC offers even matchups
It is one of the primary factors where these two sports differ the most. MMA offers more matches than boxing. Even if you do not watch boxing more often, you can figure out that most elite boxing fights do not match up evenly.
You can often see an unknown boxer fighting against a relatively famous one. I think it is the main reason many famous boxing names manage to have 30/40-0 records with a 100% Knock Out rate. Maintaining this record type is easier if the competition is not up to the mark.
You might not see unfair matches like boxing in the UFC because the UFC has a ranking system. You might see fighters fight with uneven ranks in MMA, but not in UFC.
The ranking system of UFC makes the competition even. Because of this ranking system, UFC fighters always fight with an evenly matched fighter(in terms of skill and experience).
If you compare UFC and boxing in terms of fair play, fight types, and overall a more fun experience, UFC wins every time. You will see fair fights, not in a ring but in a cage making it more interesting.
Boxing is the clear winner in terms of sales, but it might change quickly. Boxing’s fan base is not growing as rapidly as UFC. You can see the trend from the last five years, and it will tell you the same.