With a history dating back to ancient times, mixed martial arts (or MMA) is, without a doubt, a well-known sport. MMA represents a full-contact combat sports which, unlike boxing, has much more relaxed rules. For example, MMA fighters can fight both standing and whilst they are on the ground, and they can utilise various techniques from different martial arts, hence the name of the sport.
MMA rules are unlike those of other sports, and that is why the sport can be regarded as a revolutionary one. What is more, whereas not long ago MMA was seen as an underground sport, today it has become as famous as boxing. It is so popular in fact, that its fame has reverberated across betting shops across the UK.
Which leads us to one logical question – how has MMA, and betting on the sport, became so widely accepted in the UK?
The sport’s early days
Even though the British MMA organization called Cage Warriors was founded in 2001, the sport started to grow in popularity only after the introduction of the UFC in 2002. Even years after UFC first stepped on UK soil, however, MMA remained relatively underground, often regarded as slightly better than bare knuckle boxing.
What made the sport so underground was that it was the first of its kind within the UK. Whereas MMA had become very popular in the Canadian betting sites especially after the foundation of the UFC, it was far from famous on UK ground. Fighters like Greg Hardy were among the first to walk the MMA path, and that path was long and narrow, made by players themselves.
As one can expect, MMA betting was far from popular in the early days of the sport.
Incidentally, there were even attempts to ban MMA and boxing as sports. Back in 2007, the British Medical Association tried to ban boxing as well as mixed martial arts, and even described the latter as “human cockfighting”.
How MMA turned the tables
In spite of the initial struggle, mixed martial arts survived and today it has become one of the most popular sports in the UK, along with boxing. MMA even caught the attention of major bookmakers, and punters today can take advantage of a diverse MMA betting market.
As we mentioned, MMA achieved such mass popularity largely thanks to the UFC. That is not to say that the organization has not benefited from the UK market. As a matter of fact, the UK is UFC’s flagship market on the Old Continent, accounting for millions of pounds in revenues each year – the UK is the fifth-largest UFC market on the globe.
MMA has become outstandingly popular among UK sports fans, and more and more young talents want to become part of this beautiful and yet brutal fighting sport, and famous dojos in London report to have increased the number of their fighters in the last few years.
Young talents emulate fighters like Conor McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, and Michael Bisping, who became the first British champion on June 5, 2018 after a mind-blowing first-round knockout against Luke Rockhold.
Broadcasting of MMA bouts
When MMA grew out of its initial reputation of an underground sport, media started to pay attention. At present, mixed martial arts bouts are broadcasted on TV and streamed on the web. In addition, what testifies to the growing popularity of the sport is that UFC bouts are also broadcasted within the Republic of Ireland as well. Interestingly enough, major MMA bouts are watched by more than 300,000 people, despite that some of them begin in rather inconvenient hours for the British public.
Nowadays, fans comment, you can go to the pub and enjoy a MMA bout with your mates, just like you can enjoy football matches. Additionally, some say that if were not for the UFC, MMA would not have been as popular in the UK as it is now.
Big names rule over the betting market
As with most sports, it is bouts between big names in mixed martial arts that attract the biggest crowds. Apart from the most watched, however, major bouts between popular fighters are also considered most appealing to punters.
Unlike other combat sports, where fighters can become champions without facing the best players, UFC invests a lot of effort into making the best fight the best in MMA. That is another reason why the sport is so outstandingly popular among punters – here, there is only one path to becoming a champion – facing the best opponent.
Finally, bookmakers work hard to create a diverse betting market so that punters can have a variety of betting options. For example, punters can place bets not only on bout winner, but also on the number of knockdowns within the bout, and they can even guess in which round will the fight end.