Hispanic Interest in MMA Growing

July 14, 2010

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer talks about the dim prospect of the Lesnar-Velasquez title fight happening in Mexico (now scheduled for October in Anaheim, CA), but mentions the UFC’s exploding popularity in the country.

White spoke of wanting to do a show in Mexico City, but didn’t know if the timing would work out for this fight. With no date on the horizon, it’s unlikely. UFC has exploded in popularity in Mexico over the past year, as the top fighters are now well known in that country when 13 months ago none but Lesnar, through his pro wrestling stardom, had any real name value. It remains well behind boxing and pro wrestling in popularity, that have been staples in that culture for decades. But because boxing and pro wrestling are so popular, it would appear to be a market that would take to UFC.

Payout Perspective:

I’d really be interested to see where Meltzer is getting his numbers from, but I’m inclined to believe him. I’ve run some stats through Simmons Research and the UFC’s popularity amongst American Hispanics is exploding.

  • The total number of Hispanic people interested in the UFC is up 50% since 2007, which is the largest increase of any professional sport in North America (including Wrestling).
  • Hispanics now make up roughly 15% of the UFC fan base in the US (up from 11% in 2007). Only the WWE has a greater proportion of Hispanic support.
  • The number of avid Hispanic UFC fans has increased by over 110% since 2007, which is again the largest increase of any professional sport in North America. The WWE enjoyed the next greatest increase (roughly 85%).
  • Not surprisingly, Hispanics now make up roughly 25% of the UFC’s avid fan base in the US (a number up from 14% in 2007).
  • Hispanic people are now 10% more likely to be a fan of the UFC than the average person, which is a sizable shift from just a few years ago when members of the group were 13% less likely to be a fan than the average member of the population.
  • Furthermore, Hispanic males aged 18-34 are 222% more like to be an avid fan of the UFC than a member of the average population, which is by far higher than any professional sports league (again with the exception of the WWE that sits in second).

It should be noted that Hispanic interest in sports as a whole is increasing. However, these numbers show a significant trend in growth that not only match the UFC’s general growth but exceed it.

Note: I’m working on a feature that details the growth of the UFC demographic over the last 3-4 years via Simmons Research. Hopefully I can share that with everyone in the next few weeks. Much of what I’ve always hypothesized is evident in the numbers (such as growth in the older demographics), but they do appear to contradict Dana White’s statements that the UFC demo is nearly 44% female. More to come!

23 Responses to “Hispanic Interest in MMA Growing”

  1. Coyote on July 14th, 2010 10:20 AM

    Man im from Mexico, and period, nobody cares about UFC. Just maybe the states close to U.S.A., but right there the security situation is really dangerous.

    Right now the Boxing is going up again in Mexico. Again.

    Just to get a taste, Televisa, who have the contract of UFC trasmition, put the transmision more late night, even close to midnight. and if there are box event, UFC dont get the slot.

    And, plus the first events UFC.100, and UFC.101 was tranmited on national television, the ratings was very low, and the change UFC transmition to “Televisa Deportes Network”, Televisa sports cable channel.

    Even, i here the goverment is not happy with legal MMA.

    Sorry but this, is the truth.

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  3. Machiel Van on July 14th, 2010 11:32 AM

    (rolls eyes at Coyote’s unsubstantiated (trolling?)comment ) It will be really interesting to see how the sport’s popularity will grow in not just Mexico, but all of Latin America. It has always seemed odd to me that the UFC seems focused on expansion overseas, while there is not a lot of news or statements regarding expansion into Latin American markets that seem like they would be much easier to penetrate. I mean, an office in China? Why not an office in Mexico first? Seems like a much more natural move to try to break into Mexico (given the demographic’s heavy interest in boxing), which is much closer in proximity to Zuffa’s base of operations. Any thoughts Kelsey? I could be wrong, but it seems as though they haven’t made any sort of major push besides the usual TV contracts.

  4. Jose Mendoza on July 14th, 2010 11:58 AM

    Machiel Van and Kelsey:

    I know several people in Mexico who are MMA fans who have the same sentiments as Coyote. They all said that due to powerful figureheads in Mexico, it is not likely that MMA will be taking off anytime soon. Like Kelsey said, Boxing, Soccer, and Pro-Wrestling are a STRONG part of their culture and have a good number of powerful people behind it. They see MMA as a threat to their business practices. It’s part corruption and dealing with powerful groups that already have prevented the WEC and UFC from going there, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. I first thought it was a very pessimistic view
    but then I keep getting similar responses from different people.

    MMA is definitely growing in the American-Hispanic demographic though.

  5. Machiel Van on July 14th, 2010 1:09 PM

    Thanks for the input Jose. I’ll admit I’m overly sensitive to anti-mma messages when they seem to be of a dismissive tone and are poorly worded.

    That said, I highly doubt, however, that “no one cares about UFC, period” in Mexico, as was stated. From your comment it sounds like it is the powers that be that are an obstacle to growing an MMA market in Mexico, not a lack of fan interest. Thank you for an actual explanation.

  6. Diego on July 14th, 2010 1:28 PM

    Coyote makes some valid points, but I do believe that eventually MMA will gain a foothold. I have to say, that it is rare to see any sort of advertising for UFC fights in Mexico. When I walk around town in cities in North America, I can find UFC posters at bars, in Mexico City the only time I can remember seeing the UFC advertised was at a strip club that caters for American businessmen that also advertises NFL games.

    Guys like Velasquez and Lesnar will help – as will guys like Eddie Alvarez and other latin fighters. But ultimately Mexicans love to see their local fighters and I think the sport is waiting for an Aztec Warrior to win a title in order to break out in popularity. Also, as the sport gains more and more momentum with Hispanic fans in the US, it will start to trickle back down to Mexico. In the end I think the powers that be will seek to profit from the new sport rather than try to block it, but that could take a long time.

    I can also see it being difficult for Dana to go down there and maintain full control the way he does in the US. Too many people will want to own a piece of the action. Mexico is a country of monopolists, but they are Mexican monopolists, they are not going to be happy to let the UFC into town unless there is something in it for the local power brokers.

  7. Jose Mendoza on July 14th, 2010 1:48 PM

    Machiel Van, Diego:

    Another thing that somre are overstating here is that Cain would be a draw in Mexico because he is Mexican, which is not necessarily true. Mexicans like to get behind their own people who grew up and struggled with them. Chavez, Morales, Barrera are the type of guys they get behind. Guys like Oscar De La Hoya, who grew up in the States and are considered Mexican-American actually have a dislike from Mexicans, although De La Hoya grew up in LA, which has a strong Mexican population.

    Not sure how strong Mexican fans would support Cain, who went to ASU and grew up in Arizona and San Jose. The good thing about Cain is that he has made appearances in Telemundo and Univision, which means the Hispanic population should at least have heard of him before.

  8. Brain Smasher on July 14th, 2010 3:39 PM

    Dana White mentioned a while back that corruption was keeping them from going to Mexico and Japan. I think Brazil was the other.

  9. Kelsey Philpott on July 14th, 2010 3:55 PM

    Jose, Brain:

    Yeah, I’d originally devoted a paragraph in the above article to talking about Dana White’s comment regarding the corruption in Mexico.

    http://www.fightersonlymagazine.co.uk/news/viewarticle.php?id=1235

    I question how viable that market is right now. Not only does Jose make a great point in terms of other sports competitors, but the drug war has only gotten worse since Dana last spoke. There’s a certain lawlessness that might be best avoided until MMA is a little more mature.

    If the Mexican market can quietly develop a few stars of its own and they experience success in the UFC, I think the door would be wide open. Until then it might be a real struggle.

  10. Diego on July 15th, 2010 6:45 AM

    Kelsey, Jose,

    I agree that what the sport needs in Mexico is a Mexican star (born and raised, not a SoCal transplant). That’s what I was trying to say in my post. Having Mexican-American fighters does help a little, it’s just not enough on its own. Mexicans love to wave the tri-color, but they can’t do that for Cain Velasquez (who I don’t think even speaks Spanish).

  11. Cesar on July 15th, 2010 9:31 AM

    I’m born American but raised in Mexico. People out there know about the UFC but to them “es pelea de perro” transalated to a “dog fight.” For the most part, they do not understand the technical aspect yet. But it is headed in thatdirection.
    Here’s an article I wrote for Sherdog sometime ago that I feel still applies today.

    Any comments are welcome at ccaesarr@hotmail.com
    enjoy
    http://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/MMA-and-Mexico-A-Matter-of-Time-9239

  12. Brain Smasher on July 15th, 2010 5:28 PM

    I do believe a better chance of drawing the hispanic croud would be to merge the WEC. I dont think it has many other benefits as i would like the WEC to stay as it is. Maybe the UFC should not merge with WEC but rather add the smaller weight class’ and bring in other fighters. Hispanics are small people and only have one weight class(155) that they realistically have a chance to compete at really lowers the chance of getting a hispanic star. Having a champ in the WEC isnt going to do much. But a hispanic star under the UFC logo could be huge. The UFC banner adds credibility where as the WEC is still seen as a minor leagues to most especially mainstream fans.

  13. Brain Smasher on July 15th, 2010 5:45 PM

    Also the smaller weight class’ would be needed when trying to being in the asian markets they are going after too.

  14. revee on July 16th, 2010 4:12 AM

    mexicans ,hispanics as well as most of the countries in the world have the machismo culture.and they wouldnt be intrested in grappling…they just like the stand up toe to toe action….you can research from the internet countries that like grappling are in the middle east specially in IRAN and some in the u.s because they have collegiate wrestling…mma is on the decline in japan,cant take of from china,and cant really be mainstream anywhere else in the world…..

  15. Diego on July 16th, 2010 5:07 AM

    I agree with Brain. Look at the weight classes where Mexican boxers dominate – they don’t exist in the UFC. The odds of a Mexican fighter getting into title contention at 185 or 205 are pretty slim. Even 155 is pushing it.

  16. Jose Mendoza on July 16th, 2010 6:09 PM

    Diego, Brain:

    UFC’s hope for a Mexican-American star were Roger Huerta and now Cain, though Roger is not even full Mexican and Cain was raised in Arizona.

    Cesar:

    Thank you for your post, great write-up:
    http://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/MMA-and-Mexico-A-Matter-of-Time-9239

  17. Stan Kosek on July 20th, 2010 12:24 PM

    If this is the case, maybe Strikeforce should try and cut some favorable deals there, it will never be the U.S. market, but it might be a good market to get a good foothold in

  18. Warren M. Jackson on July 20th, 2010 2:29 PM

    I’d be interested to find out what companies will be interested in a sponsorship/partnership opportunity with the UFC if they are able to hold an event in Mexico.

    As mentioned, the Hispanic interest in MMA is booming. If a company has a product or service geared towards the Hispanic people, partnering with the UFC could be a huge activation of that sponsorship. Moreover, I’d be very curious to find out what industries besides alcohol (i.e. Tequila Cazadores) would be willing to jump in. This could be a huge international marketing opportunity for the right company.

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  20. Marc Geer on July 20th, 2010 5:38 PM

    I have a friend that promoted MMA in Mexico for years and drew decent crowds(mind you some americans that crossed the border). And didn’t UFC 100 do a really strong number in Mexico on national television?

  21. SHAWN G on July 21st, 2010 9:50 AM

    i dont know how the goverment is not happy about mma lmao look at all the shit thats happening over there cartels mafias mane mexico has no control over there people mane a little street gang from la or chicago could run that country mane they have there own problems and maybe mma would do alot of people over good and teach them something new

  22. John on July 21st, 2010 12:17 PM

    I’m stoked for MMA too…they are going to kill it! They only need a small cut of the market share from UFC and Stratus/MMA will starting making big money. And this is only one small project that Stratus (SMDI) is undertaking.  Their stock price is already on the way back and will probably double in less than 2Q.  Everyone should look at SMDI as an investment opp!…Their website is the first place to start….Then in contact with their corporate offices.

  23. jessaiah on August 31st, 2010 5:53 PM

    There’s always been an genuine interest when you equate mma to the realism of urban and military combat to people who have be told ” look it’s better to have more tools to get the job done than to go in with one set of tools” I tell folks here in Boston
    in the spanish community who’re begining to wake up to it as a martial and sport where it makes you a more complete fighter and athlete.
    It’s growing even though there’s resistance but it’s growing.

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