Young white males between 18 and 35 years old has been the fan base that the UFC has relied upon, quite similar to the WWE/WWF. The sport of MMA even seems to draw its fighters from this demographic. But can MMA lure the Latino community away from their boxing heroes?
Boxing has had icons like Oscar de la Hoya and Cesar Chavez, whereas the UFC has launched Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes, two very grass-roots American fighters into their spotlight at the beginning of their upward rise.
Bob Arum’s “Latin Fury” cards feature fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Jorge Arce. ” Arum stages the fights in Mexico, pocketing live gate and Mexican television rights revenue.” UFC and other MMA organizations have not had a Latino fighter to embrace, leading them to this new demographic. UFC has put on events in England, Canada, Ireland and Germany. Fighter Michael Bisping, an English born fighter who became an MMA star through The Ultimate Fighter (SpikeTV show) helped with this international presence. It is also possible that the devoted Latin market (mostly Mexican and Puerto Rican) is offended by Dana White always bashing boxing and how boring he finds it.
Ironically, the Hispanic community is still perhaps the largest ethic group involved in martial arts overall (I am referring to all styles) and unbelievably successful in the world competitive arenas that offer tae kwon do, karate and judo (i.e. Pan American Games and Olympics). As a community they have always supported martial arts because of the discipline and confidence that it builds in their children. Despite this, MMA a clear combination of various martial arts is really American-made and not necessarily beloved by traditionalists. Not because it is believed to be ineffective, but because it doesn’t seem to always display the sportsmanship and honor built into the traditional martial arts systems.
Although UFC is hopeful that Cain Velasquez ( a Mexican-American) might capture a Latin fanbase, he isn’t a big enough star. Even a possible future match-up and win against Brock Lesnar will not bring them closer to the additional PPVs White seeks. Currently Velasquez has no true name recognition in the MMA community to convince Hispanic boxing fans to spend their $40 bucks or so on a Saturday night PPV for an MMA card. With all that being said, White is going to have to grow himself a Golden Boy of sorts to cause the original fight fan, a very loyal fan, from their Dos Equis and a card filled mostly with Latino fighters.
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