MMA And Social Media: The Power Of Fighters In The Digital Age

The internet has always been a huge part of mixed martial arts. MMA started to gain popularity in the early 90s, but attending live events or buying DVDs or VHS tapes was the only way to watch the action.

However, the sport didn’t start to expand beyond its original hardcore fan base until the early 2000s as the internet revolution unfolded. The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride FC were the most dominant promotions back then and many people got their first glance of mixed martial arts through videos posted on the internet.

Fast forward to a few decades later and social media is now one of the major driving forces turning many mixed martial artists into household names. It’s the perfect medium for displaying the awesomeness of MMA and a great way for fighters to build their brands.


The Power Of MMA Fighters In The Social Media Age

This article will take a close look at some of the fighters cashing in big on social media and using it to create brand recognition for themselves that surpasses the sport. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular MMA fighters on social media and how they’ve used it to take their careers to the next level.


1) Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor remains the most popular fighter in mixed martial arts despite not winning any fights in over four years. That’s because of the loyal army of fans the Irishman has built up over the years. He’s more popular than the Ultimate Fighting Championship on social media, boasting over 47 million followers compared to the UFC’s 40 million followers on Instagram. That’s with the UFC spending millions of dollars years on its marketing team.

Having 47 million followers in the social media age makes McGregor one of the most influential people on the planet. Selling out fights will never be an issue for McGregor regardless of if he holds any titles or not. His hard work during the early days of his career earned him a super-fight against Floyd Mayweather and his status as the sport’s biggest superstar.

Up-and-comers can learn a lot from Conor’s ability to connect with a wide range of fans. In the digital age, you don’t have to be the champion or even the best fighter in your weight class to be the highest-paid athlete in the sport. Marketing now plays a larger role in MMA than it ever has.

However, social media also has its negatives as McGregor has found out a few times. He’s been forced to delete a few comments he’s made on platforms like Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, because of the backlash he faced.


2) Demetrious Johnson


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A post shared by ONE Championship (@onechampionship)

ONE Championship Flyweight MMA World Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is another popular mixed martial artist who has built an impressive audience on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch. His “guy next door” personality makes it easy for him to connect with fans, while his impressive performances inside the cage often provide highlights that go viral.

Social media wasn’t that huge when DJ started his MMA career, but he’s been able to adapt to the new digital age better than most fighters.

Many would say DJ is a full-time influencer now as he often gives his opinion on trending issues through social media. From interviews with MMA fighters like Miesha Tate to covering beef between other social media influencers, the Mighty Mouse does it all.


3) Israel Adesanya

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A post shared by Israel Adesanya (@stylebender)

Adesanya is the second-biggest star on the UFC’s roster and he’s one of the most proficient on social media. He has the largest following on YouTube for an active MMA fighter, with over a million followers, and he uses the platform to give fans insights into his daily life. It’s estimated that his YouTube channel brings in close to a million dollars in revenue yearly.

“The Style Bender” is even bigger on sites like Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, where he has 8.6 million and 1.8 million followers respectively. Adesanya’s colorful, unapologetic personality has been one of the main drivers fueling his success on social media as it allows him to connect with fans from all over the world.

Like McGregor, Adesanya has also experienced the negative aspects of social media after some of his more controversial comments. He’s learned over time to be more diplomatic with the views he expresses online.


4) Stamp Fairtex

Stamp’s mischievous, fun personality allows her to connect with fans worldwide seamlessly and her accomplishments inside the cage give her lots of credibility with fight fans. From showing off her dance moves to pranking her training partners, Stamp has been extremely good at providing snippets that give fans a little insight into her everyday life.

Her presence on social media will only grow faster now that she’s captured ONE Championship’s women’s Atomweight title.


Social Media Isn’t Optional For MMA Fighters

You’d be leaving a lot on the table as a mixed martial artist if you don’t develop a social media presence these days. Many MMA fighters today now make full-time incomes from advertisements on their social media sites. This is huge for prospects and mid-tier fighters who have historically had to work full-time jobs while training for their fights.

With social media, fighters can now capitalize on their popularity and use it to subsidize their expenses until they get their big break in the sport.

Influencers like Jake Paul are the best examples of how big social media has gotten in combat sports. Despite starting his boxing journey later than usual and having no substantial experience as an amateur, Paul has become one of the biggest draws in the sport. His fight against Tommy Fury sold over 800,000 pay-per-views, a feat many more talented boxers have never accomplished.


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