From rags to riches: the rise and rise of the UFC (or will oversaturation lead to its downfall?)

Reece Savage-West

Abstract


In 1993, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) promoted a “no holds barred” mixed-martial arts contest designed to answer the perennial combat sports fans' question - can a wrestler beat a boxer?

Considerable blood, sweat and (some) tears later, the UFC has turned into a multimedia corporate behemoth. This article will analyse the origins of the Ultimate fighting Championship and its continued struggle to gain mainstream acceptance and regulatory approval. In particular, the article will analyse how the UFC has shifted between subscription-based channels, event pay-per-view television, free-to-air shows and non-traditional media channels such as social media and user-generated content depending on how acceptable its product was deemed for the public.

The article will conclude by arguing that while UFC has expanded globally and now dominates the mixed-martial arts industry, the ever-increasing demand for high-quality events taking place against a backdrop of corporate respectability, may eventually alienate its core market and lead to an ultimely demise….

Keywords: Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Mixed-Martial arts (MMA), regulation, commercial, media


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