Photo: The UFC's current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez
Ask any number of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. if they are interested in watching the mixed martial arts (MMA) most notably displayed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and you’ll see quite a few hands go up. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in the U.S. who hasn’t at least heard of it. And among that 18-34 demographic, 20 percent are Latino.
Boxing promoter Bob Arum recently told USA Today that the MMA was for “a tattooed, skinhead white guy who enjoys watching similar-looking, untalented individuals,” but seeing as how 37 percent of Latino males 18-34 say they are “very interested” in the UFC, Mr. Arum might want to take a second to remove that foot from his mouth.
Recent Simmons data revealed that only 23 percent of the 18-34 demographic of UFC viewers are non-Latino, and Latinos are more involved fans of the sport and are 25 percent more likely to say they watch pay-per-view UFC fights than non-Latinos.
With Latino fighters like Kenny Florian, Thiago Alves, Daniel Gracie, Tito Ortiz, and current UFC heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez, it really isn’t a surprise that Latinos are quickly finding a new sport to gather around, and with the large number of fighters training and being exported out of Brazil and learning from the highly respected Gracie family, there are more fighters to come.
Networks are sure taking notice as well. Early in 2010, the UFC announced that pay-per-view fights with Spanish-language announcing would soon be available. MTV’s Tr3s even picked joined in on the hoopla and signed a deal that resulted in the broadcasting of Bellator’s fourth season. Bellator Fighting Championships is a MMA promotional company headquartered in Chicago, and much like the UFC, they have a number of Latino fighters.
Some merchandise has even been geared directly towards the sport’s Latino fans. Like these shorts, from clothing company and fighter-finder TapouT, which brandishes a Mexican flag down one leg.