The Hispanic market and MMA

July 23, 2011

This past week’s issue of the Sports Business Journal focused on the increasing importance of the Hispanic market. The numbers reveal that MMA is one of the most watched sports by the demographic.

Research compiled by ESPN shows that households that speak Spanish, or mostly Spanish, are fans of MMA. MMA and wrestling (the study couples the two sports) is the second watched sport to soccer in households that speak Spanish. In households that speak mostly English, MMA and wrestling fall to third behind the NFL and NBA. Notably, MMA and wrestling fall off the survey in households that speak only English. The top sports in that segment are NFL, NBA and college football.

One of the takeaways from the feature is that for Hispanics, the median age is 27, there are 17 million Hispanics under the age of 18 and three out of four speak English and Spanish. Univision ratings are strong as a result of its soccer coverage.

Fox Deportes is attempting to cater to this burgeoning market with the help of Alex Rodriguez and Cain Velasquez. The NY Yankee and the UFC Champ are featured in branding spots for the channel. They are described as “slick and edgy spots” with the tag line: “Its our moment.” SBJ remarks the backgrounds of both Rodriguez and Velasquez as American born but embracing their heritage. As you recall, Velasquez has included Spanish in his appearances. Although it seems that he is not fluent, the attempts are well-received.

For its part, the UFC introduced UFCLatino.com to capitalize on this growing market. The UFC will be able to leverage its fighters to cater to the Hispanic market. Not only Velasquez, but Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz should be ready for a push in the coming year. With his win over Urijah Faber, he is slated to defend his title against Demetrious Johnson on Versus this fall. This is a great chance for the UFC to promote Cruz and get many of the Hispanic demographic to have the chance to watch Cruz without the need to invest in a PPV. The hope would be that with a strong showing from Cruz, a fan base will grow.

Payout Perspective:

The SBJ article is an interesting study on the Latino market. Already, Cain Velasquez is reaping the benefits of the growing interest in marketing toward the Hispanic population. In boxing, Victor Ortiz is on the cusp of something big if he were to upset Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Regardless, the September PPV between the two should be a huge PPV buy.

Certainly, the UFC is monitoring these types of trends and acting accordingly (e.g., UFCLatino.com). Cain Velasquez (and hopefully Dominick Cruz) should be able to garner more sponsors as a result of the popularity of the sport. With the numbers showing that many Latinos will be entering the UFC demographic in the near future, you could see more integration of Latino influence in the marketing of the UFC.

6 Responses to “The Hispanic market and MMA”

  1. dave on July 24th, 2011 7:25 PM

    It’s a double-edge sword to play up the racial/ethnic angle. For example, the “Brown Pride” tattoo of Cain Velasquez is gonna get a lot of heat if and when he gets more mainstream fame. He’s a talented fighter, but racist tattoos aren’t cool.

  2. John S. on July 25th, 2011 8:38 AM

    “Research compiled by ESPN shows that households that speak Spanish, or mostly Spanish, are fans of MMA. ”

    I don’t really think you can come to that conclusion based on this report. First off, the SBJ couples pro wrestling and MMA together. Secondly, the report would indicate that MMA is more popular amongst Mexican natives and less assimilated immigrants – being the 2nd most watched sport amongst households that don’t speak english, 3rd most popular with households that speak both, and off the list for households that use only English. I would think the more likely explanation is that Lucha Libre, an extremely popular form of entertainment in Mexico, is the reason that MMA and pro wrestling comes in at number 2 and not because there is some big, unrecognized MMA fanbase south of the border or amongst the American Latino community.

  3. Machiel Van on July 25th, 2011 9:15 AM

    I don’t consider it racists to have pride in one’s ethnic background (although I’m not about to get a “white pride” tattoo, so I understand your point Dave, I just don’t think Velasquez got his tattoo with racist intent).

    Does anyone else think that absolutely NOTHING about Dominick Cruz, apart from his name, indicates his latino heritage? Perhaps I’m just being ignorant?

  4. dave on July 25th, 2011 11:23 AM

    Sure, perhaps the media will give Cain a pass. Obviously the MMA media have so far. The tattoo is clearly racist, though, regardless of whether Cain says he had racist intent or not. Even the dumbest racist is smart enough to deny that his “white/black/brown pride” tattoo was done for racist reasons.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. UFC should have a blanket policy forbidding racist tattoos. UFC would never allow one of their fighters to sport a “white pride” tattoo, even if the guy seemed nice and said he didn’t mean anything racist, and they should demand that Cain remove his racist tattoo as well.

    It’s just morally wrong. I don’t believe Velasquez is a racist. I do believe he made a serious error in judgment by getting such a large, prominent racist tattoo. Tattoos like that are backwards and ignorant. UFC shouldn’t have a “no racist tattoo” policy that only applies to white fighters. It should be a universal prohibition, because it’s wrong regardless of your ethnic background.

  5. Jason Cruz on July 25th, 2011 6:03 PM

    John,

    Pro wrestling is popular among Hispanics, no doubt. If anyone is a WWE fan, they would know that Rey Mysterio (a former luchadore) won the WWE title and is a very popular wrestler among fans. The WWE tried to make a splash by pushing Sin Cara, another luchadore. But, he was caught for using an illegal substance and was suspended by the WWE.

    There must be a reason why the study left off boxing. A combat sports category would have been more appropriate. Otherwise it would fall in the “other” category in the study.

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