Power in mixed martial arts (MMA): a case study of the ultimate fighting championship (UFC)

I.E King, N. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


This study analyses and explains how the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) acquired and retains monopoly and monopsony power over Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in a complex political, legal, regulatory, and financial context. A qualitative and interpretive approach to research underpins a thematic analysis of social media and journalistic content alongside a review of a limited academic literature. It is found that the UFC has acquired and retained monopoly and monopsony power in a context of weak regulation, limited competition, ineffective legal and political intervention, and an absence of unionisation. The three key strategies employed by the UFC to sustain power over MMA were found to be 1. control of athlete labour via restrictive contracts; 2. acquisition of competitor promotions, expertise, and commercial contracts; and 3. building reputation and legitimacy via public relations and lobbying activities. The UFC has employed a combination of legitimate, referent, reward, expert, informational, and coercive power to become the dominant organisation in MMA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Early online date17 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2024


  • MMA
  • UFC
  • monopoly
  • monopsony
  • regulation
  • unionization


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