This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the US Fighting Sports market including US Fighting Sports market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the Fighting Sports market in the US.

Current market landscape

Fighting sports excel at appealing to sought-after demographics. Gen Zs, Millennials, Blacks, non-Hispanics, and Hispanics all overindex for fandom of boxing or MMA. This demographic makeup of fans of fighting sports creates a fairly unique audience, especially in comparison to the overall sports fan.

Consumers are feeling the impact of rising costs due to record inflation; as a result, discretionary spending will be more closely monitored. Whereas fan investment into many other sports are monthly bills baked into budgets, combat sports PPV events are one-off purchases that could easily be seen as an easy cut to make to save money. In addition, as fighting sports fans skew younger and lower income, inflationary concerns could impact combat sports fans even more than consumers as a whole.

The nature of PPV inherently limits the audience of fans for fighting sports events. Consumers must not only actively decide to watch a boxing or MMA fight but also pay on the spot to do so – a challenge other sports do not face.

Future market trends in the combat sports market in the US

Across sports, women’s sports are attracting more focus and investment, with combat sports no exception. In 2022, two of the most decorated female boxers of all time and are set to go head-to-head at Madison Square Garden in what is being labeled the “biggest fight in women’s boxing history.” A fight of this magnitude could bring about a new era of prominence and attention for the female boxing market in the US and influencer boxing fights.

Read on to discover more about the US Fighting Sports consumer market, read our US Marketing to Sports Fans Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly understand US fighting sports

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the fighting sports market.
  • How fans engage with and follow combat sports and how to cultivate fandom.
  • The impact of fighting sports sponsorships on fans’ purchase behavior and brand affinity.
  • The future trends set to take hold in boxing and MMA.

Covered in this report

Brands include: MMA, Burger King, Bud Light, Modelo, UFC, Jones Soda, Monster Energy, Venum, Timex, Project Rock, The Lawnmower, Madden, FIFA, NBA 2K, MLB the Show, Fight Night, DraftKings.

Fighters include: ConorMcGregor, Usman, Covington, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquaio, Muhammad Ali, Julianna Peña, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Sports sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis on fighting sports fandom in the US to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Fighting sports have several reasons for optimism. Its fandom appeals strongly to certain demographics often sought out by brands – namely Gen Z and multicultural consumers. Boxing and MMA are growing and create destination events for fans. Combat sports are open to new types of partnerships and sponsorships across a variety of industries as well as new methods to capture consumer attention such as influencer fight events. Look for combat sports to continue to grow and innovate moving forward.

Colin O’Brien, Sports Analyst
Colin O’Brien
Sports Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Fighting sports sponsorships positively affect affinity and purchase behavior
    • Fans look to top fighters above all else
    • Social media is a critical tool to reach combat sports’ young fan base
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Sports fandom, by sport, 2021
      • Figure 2: Sports industry and fighting sports outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Paul brothers highlight growing trend of influencer fights changing boxing promotion
    • PPV events intentionally shrink the potential audience for combat sports
    • Female boxing poised for growth with upcoming match
      • Figure 3: Biggest fight in women’s boxing history, 2022
    • Key consumer insights
    • Combat sports greatly appeal to Gen Zs and multicultural consumers
      • Figure 4: Fighting sports fandom, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
    • The ancillary games around combat sports enhance engagement
      • Figure 5: Ancillary games of fighting sports, by gender, age and race, 2021
  3. The Fighting Sports Market

    • Market overview
      • Figure 6: Sports fandom, by sport, 2021
    • Combat sports’ early return from COVID-19 boosted fandom
    • Key players
      • Figure 7: Boxing’s sanctioning bodies and MMA organizations – Descriptions and value estimates
      • Figure 8: Boxing and MMA organizations followed, 2021
  4. Target Audience – Profile of US Fighting Sports Fans

    • Who are sports fans?
      • Figure 9: Overall sports fandom, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Assessing the fighting sports fan base
      • Figure 10: US adult population aged 18+, sports fan and fighting sports fan breakdown, 2021
      • Figure 11: Sports fandom passion, by all fandom and by boxing/MMA fandom, 2021
    • Who are fighting sports fans?
      • Figure 12: Fighting sports fandom, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 13: Profile of fighting sports fans, indexed to all fans, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
  5. Market Factors

    • PPV events limit the potential audience for combat sports
    • PPV costs cause greater concern amid rising inflation
    • Movie theaters return to offering fighting events
    • Fights can be destination events for fans
  6. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Jake and Logan Paul highlight the growing trend of celebrity/influencer fights
      • Figure 14: Jake Paul boohooMAN apparel collaboration, 2021
    • The biggest female boxing match of all time can propel the sport to new heights
      • Figure 15: Biggest fight in women’s boxing history, 2022
    • Newer industries, such as crypto and NFTs, find homes in the UFC
      • Figure 16: UFC Dapper Labs NFTs, 2022
    • Social media broadcasts can enhance reach of combat sports
  7. The Fighting Sports Fan: Fast Facts

    • 15% of US adults are fighting sports fans
    • Fighting sports’ fan base is distinctly younger, male and multicultural
    • 44% of fighting sports fans self-identify as very passionate sports fans overall
    • Fans take a unique approach to follow the sport
    • Fighting sports offer strong opportunities for brand sponsorship
    • Video games, sports betting and fantasy sports offer ways to reach fighting sports fans
  8. Exploring Fighting Sports Fans

    • Fans split on preference for boxing or MMA
      • Figure 17: Boxing and MMA organizations followed, by age, gender and race, 2021
    • Fighting sports skew male after decades of discounting women’s boxing and MMA
      • Figure 18: Sports fandom, by sport, by gender, 2021
    • Combat sports appeal strongly to Gen Z
      • Figure 19: Sports fandom, by sport, by generation, 2021
    • Fighting sports fans are more likely to be multicultural
      • Figure 20: Sports fandom, by sport, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
    • Combat sports reverse the correlation between sports fandom and household income
      • Figure 21: Sports fandom, by sport, by household income, 2021
    • A lack of knowledge and difficulty to watch events form barriers to fandom
      • Figure 22: Barriers to fighting sports fandom, by generation, 2021
  9. Following the Action in the Ring

    • Look beyond television and social media to reach fans of fighting sports
      • Figure 23: Methods for following fighting sports, by gender and by age, 2021
    • Social media is a critical tool to reach combat sports’ young fan base
      • Figure 24: Top three reasons for using social media to follow fighting sports, 2021
    • Fans look to social media for highlights and updates
      • Figure 25: UFC event information Twitter post, 2022
  10. Cultivating Fandom

    • The sports halo effect improves affinity and purchase behavior
      • Figure 26: Fighting sports halo effect on affinity for brands/fighters, by gender, age and race, 2021
      • Figure 27: Fighting sports halo effect impact on purchase behavior, by gender, age and race, 2021
    • Fans look to top fighters above all else
      • Figure 28: Impact of fighter-centric fandom, by gender, age and race, 2021
    • Personal touches can enhance the connection between fan and fighter
    • Fighters can channel “The Greatest” and look to stand for social issues
      • Figure 29: Muhammad Ali’s legacy for social justice, 2021
    • Fighting sports provide opportunities for brands across industries
      • Figure 30: Marketing in fighting sports, 2021
    • Food and drink
      • Figure 31: Bud Light boxing sponsorship, 2021
    • Clothing and accessories
    • Beauty and personal care
      • Figure 32: UFC Manscaped partnership, 2021
    • The ancillary games around combat sports enhance engagement
      • Figure 33: Ancillary games of fighting sports, by gender, age and race, 2021
    • Gaming
    • Sports betting
      • Figure 34: UFC DraftKings integration, 2022
    • Fantasy sports
  11. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  12. Appendix – The Fighting Sports Fan

      • Figure 35: Demographic breakdown of sports fans, indexed to each sport’s fans, by gender, generation and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 36: Superfan breakdown, by sport, 2021

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