Where is mixed martial arts most popular?

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has grown into a global phenomenon, with a significant following and active participation in various regions around the world. Here’s a detailed look at where MMA is most popular and the factors contributing to its popularity in these regions:

United States


The United States is arguably the heartland of modern MMA, largely due to the presence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s leading MMA promotion.

Key Factors

UFC’s Influence: The UFC, headquartered in Las Vegas, has played a pivotal role in popularizing MMA in the US and globally through high-profile events, extensive marketing, and television deals.

Broad Media Coverage: MMA enjoys extensive media coverage in the US, with fights broadcast on major networks and extensive online streaming options.

Cultural Acceptance: MMA has become mainstream, with many American fighters gaining celebrity status and mainstream recognition.

Popular Locations

Las Vegas, Nevada: Known as the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas hosts numerous high-profile UFC events.

California: Home to many MMA gyms and fighters, California is a hotbed for talent.

New York: Since the legalization of MMA in 2016, New York has hosted significant UFC events, including Madison Square Garden shows.



Brazil has a rich history in martial arts, particularly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), which has deeply influenced MMA. Brazilian fighters are some of the most successful and popular in the sport.

Key Factors

Historical Significance: The Gracie family and the development of BJJ played a crucial role in the early days of MMA.

Local Heroes: Brazilian fighters like Anderson Silva, José Aldo, and Amanda Nunes have become national icons.

Cultural Passion: Combat sports are deeply embedded in Brazilian culture, with a passionate fanbase.

Popular Locations

Rio de Janeiro: Known for its numerous BJJ academies and a strong MMA culture.

São Paulo: Hosts many MMA events and is home to several top fighters and gyms.



Japan has a long tradition of martial arts and was an early adopter of MMA with promotions like PRIDE Fighting Championships, which significantly influenced the sport globally.

Key Factors

Legacy of PRIDE FC: PRIDE FC, once the premier MMA organization, was known for its grand events and top-tier talent.

Cultural Appreciation: Japanese culture has a deep respect for martial arts, which translates to a strong following for MMA.

Rizin Fighting Federation: Continues the tradition of PRIDE FC, hosting major events and drawing large audiences.

Popular Locations

Tokyo: The epicenter of Japanese MMA, hosting numerous significant events.

Osaka: Another key city with a strong MMA presence and history of hosting events.



Russia has become a powerhouse in the MMA world, producing many top fighters, particularly known for their wrestling and sambo skills.

Key Factors

Wrestling and Sambo Background: Many Russian fighters have a strong background in wrestling and sambo, contributing to their success in MMA.

Global Champions: Fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov have gained international fame and brought significant attention to Russian MMA.

Local Promotions: Organizations like M-1 Global and Absolute Championship Akhmat (ACA) are prominent in Russia, promoting local talent.

Popular Locations

Dagestan: Known for producing numerous world-class fighters, particularly in wrestling and sambo.

Moscow: Hosts major MMA events and is home to many top fighters and gyms.

United Kingdom


The United Kingdom has seen rapid growth in MMA popularity, with a strong presence of fighters and a growing fanbase.

Key Factors

Rising Talent: Fighters like Michael Bisping, the first British UFC champion, have inspired a new generation of UK fighters.

Promotions and Events: Organizations like Cage Warriors have helped develop local talent and provide a platform for fighters to showcase their skills.

Media Coverage: Increased media coverage and broadcasting of major events have contributed to the sport’s popularity.

Popular Locations

London: Hosts many major MMA events and is home to top gyms and fighters.

Manchester and Liverpool: Known for producing top fighters and having a strong MMA culture.



Canada has a passionate MMA fanbase, significantly influenced by the success of Canadian fighters in the UFC.

Key Factors

Georges St-Pierre’s Influence: GSP, one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, has greatly boosted MMA’s popularity in Canada.

Major Events: The UFC regularly hosts events in Canadian cities, drawing large crowds and media attention.

Strong Regional Scene: Local promotions like TKO MMA and others contribute to the development of Canadian fighters.

Popular Locations

Montreal: Home of Tristar Gym, where many top fighters train, including GSP.

Toronto: Hosts significant UFC events and has a strong MMA following.

Asia (General)


Asia, particularly Southeast Asia and China, has seen a significant rise in MMA’s popularity, driven by local promotions and the success of Asian fighters.

Key Factors

ONE Championship: Based in Singapore, ONE Championship is one of the largest MMA promotions in Asia, promoting martial arts and attracting a vast audience.

Chinese Market: With fighters like Zhang Weili becoming champions, the Chinese market for MMA has grown tremendously.

Cultural Embrace: Many Asian countries have a rich history of martial arts, which blends well with the principles of MMA.

Popular Locations

Singapore: Home to ONE Championship and numerous major events.

China: Rapidly growing market with significant investment in MMA infrastructure and events.