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Will UFC remain the top MMA promotion?

Like all combat sports, mixed martial arts carries a number of different promoters. There is, however, a much wider set of organisations involved here than anywhere else.

While boxing has its WBO, WBA. IBF and WBC, along with regional promoters, Mixed Martial Arts has so many more.

At the very top of this tall tree is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

They are unquestionably the biggest and the best promotion in town, but can they keep it that way?

The story of UFC

Mixed Martial Arts is a success story and Ultimate Fighting Championship has played a big part in its rise.

At the start of the 1990s, MMA was very much a fringe sport and something of a curiosity.

Spectators preferred their combat sports to focus on one discipline. Boxing, wrestling, kickboxing and other martial arts had their own competitions, and it was rare for a mix of any of these to capture media attention.

UFC changed all that in the 1990s when they brought MMA into the mainstream.

Early contests brought together fighters from all over the world and their heavy promotion, backed by live TV coverage, saw them gain an early foothold.

Other organisations followed, but UFC were already in pole position. 30 years later, that remains unchanged.

Attracting the best

UFC has always claimed top spot in terms of attracting the top talent to its roster. If an MMA athlete is rising to the top of their profession, this is where they want to be involved.

It's been said that Ultimate Fighting Championship rose to the top, simply because they paid big purses early on. World class athletes were signed to the organisation and that trend has continued.

Ultimate Fighting Championship also gets the bulk of attention from associated sectors.

It's a very comfortable position for Ultimate Fighting Championship, but could it be subject to change at some point in the future?

The extensive list of competitors

If the UFC were to fall from grace, who could possibly overtake them to become the biggest MMA promotion? Beyond the promoters at the top, many accept that Bellator is the next largest organisation within the sport.

Founded in 2008 and taking its name from the Latin translation for 'warrior', Bellator continues to showcase the best up and coming fighters in MMA.

It's also fair to say that those who are edging towards retirement may also stop off here on their way down from UFC.

After Bellator, there is a whole host of other promotions bubbling underneath. Some are specific to certain regions while others are focused on a global mission and would like nothing more than to overtake UFC at the very top.

Included in that list are organisations such as Absolute Championship, Professional Fighters League, Rizin Fighting Federation, KSW and One FC.

In short, there is a vast amount of competition which UFC has to fight off.

The best athletes in any sport will always follow the money, so UFC has to keep providing the funds to maintain those huge prize purses.

In that context, it is largely unchallenged at the top with other organisations unable to match their roster.

Conor McGregor is a case in point. The Irish fighter may be on the way down as far as his professional career is concerned, but he remains one of the biggest draws in MMA.

He's not known as 'Notorious' without good reason, and he will continue to earn UFC great media attention while he stays fighting.

Other fighters on the UFC schedule remain at the top of their game, and they help to keep UFC relevant.

Until such time as a rival promotion can offer similar levels of prize purse, Ultimate Fighting Championship are likely to maintain their dominance.

Will UFC continue to lead the way?

Ultimate Fighting Championship will be proud of their position as the top MMA promoter, but they shouldn't be complacent.

There is competition in place and it's not inconceivable that their position could change in the future.

In truth, many of those rival organisations are happy with their current positions. Some, including KSW in Poland, will continue to concentrate on one region with a view to developing the best local fighters.

Elsewhere, the biggest current threat comes from Bellator, but could a challenge come from a new promoter?

With so much money at stake, a serious attempt at MMA domination might just come from a rival, new organisation in ways in which we've seen in other sports such as golf.

UFC maintains dominance for now, but it may have its work cut out to stay at the top.

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