The UFC, WWE, and MMA are all contact sports and have grown increasingly popular in the US and across the globe. However, there are still a lot of people who don’t know the difference between these three sports.

They all have similarities in some shape or form, but they are not without differences. Both have their respective fanbases, and as you’d expect, each fan thinks their chosen form of combat sport is a league above the rest. 

For those who are new to combat sports and are not sure which camp to belong in, we’ve got you covered. This article elaborates on the differences between these three sports.

Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC)

The UFC is a mixed martial art promotion company. The organization was established in 1993 and is currently headquartered in Las Vegas, NV. 

Since its inception, it has experienced a series of transformations, changing ownerships multiple times until Dana White acquired it in 2001. It has since grown to be the most successful mixed martial arts promotion company in the world under Dana White (who also serves as its current president).

The UFC started with three basic rules originally set by the New Jersey Athletic Control Board; no biting, no eye-gouging, and no ground strikes. In general, UFC rules are slightly different from other MMA fighting rules.

In the early years, the UFC did not incorporate round fights; fighters were expected to keep fighting until one party surrendered or got knocked out. Opponents of mixed martial arts were critical of the level of ruthlessness the UFC portrayed, and this ultimately gave it a bad reputation. As a result, there were no pay-per-view fights, and viewership was limited.

However, Dana White repaired the organization’s reputation by making it more appealing to mainstream media. Since the changes in rules, the UFC has continued to bring a much wider audience compared to most other combat sports. 

The UFC is the more highly regarded of the three combat sports in question, and some of its supporters even believe it’s on its way to usurping boxing in terms of popularity in the US.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

One of the easy ways to understand the difference between MMA and UFC is to call to mind two of the most popular sports in the United States: Football and Basketball. Football is a sport, while the NFL is football’s most popular league; basketball is a sport, while the NBA is basketball’s most popular league.

Similarly, the UFC is to MMA what the NFL or NBA is to football and basketball, respectively. MMA is a combat sport that borrows different scopes of fighting, like boxing, wrestling, jujutsu, karate, and more.

Many US sportsbooks host MMA betting moneylines on their website, making it one of the most popular sports to bet on in the United States. The unpredictable nature of the sport means bettors are more likely to find profitable MMA odds online. It’s also a contributing factor to the growth of the sport, as unpredictable fights are more exciting to watch than scripted combats.

There are many other MMA promotional companies aside from the UFC. There are over 40 globally ranked companies, and these include:

  • Bellator MMA, headquartered in Newport Beach, California
  • Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB), headquartered in Grozny, Russia
  • Fight Nights Global (FNG), headquartered in Moscow, Russia 
  • ONE Championship, headquartered in Kallang, Singapore.
  • Rizin Fighting Federation (Rizin FF), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
  • Invicta FC, an all-female mixed martial arts organization headquartered in Enka, NC
  • Pancrase in Tokyo, Japan.
  • M-1 Global is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia. Legacy Fighting Alliance, headquartered in Houston, TX
  • World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA), headquartered in Grozny, Russia.
  • Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW) headquartered in Warsaw, Poland
  • Deep headquartered in Nagoya, Japan
  • Road Fighting Championship (Road FC), headquartered in Wonju, South Korea
  • Cage Warriors (CWFC), headquartered in London

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE)

WWE is a wrestling promotion company established in 1953 and headquartered in Stamford, CT. It was originally known as Titan Sports and World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. before adopting its current name in 2002.

It’s one of the biggest promotion companies in the world, raking in billions of dollars in revenue each year ($1.095 billion as of 2021). The company, founded by Vincent J. McMahon, is available in over 1 billion homes and is being broadcasted in over 30 languages.

You can tell from its name that WWE is the most far removed of the three when it comes to competition. Unlike the UFC, which has real-life unpredictable outcomes, WWE is scripted for fans. In other words, the winner of each fight has already been determined before the match takes place. 

WWE has been considered sheer sports entertainment by many combat sports fans. It thrives on gimmicks, storylines, and everything entertainment. As a result, it doesn’t get as much coverage from national media sports outlets like ESPN, FOX Sports, and CBS Sports. 

Also, WWE superstars aren’t as popular today as they were during the organization’s glory days compared to UFC fighters. You won’t find them covering major sports magazines as MMA athletes do.

One of the WWE’s upsides is that it has been able to maintain its fanbase over the years and remains one of the most followed combat sports to this day. Its numerous loyal fans have continued to enjoy entertaining shows and dazzling displays from its athletes. Don’t be fooled by the gimmicks; WWE athletes receive adequate training to perform the stunts you see in fights. Asides from the scripting, every other thing you see is real.

WWE also beats the UFC when it comes to fair pay. Unless you’re a renowned figure, the average UFC fighter earns under $15,000 a year. The salary pales in comparison to WWE fighters, who can earn as much as $500,000. They can also make money from merch and sponsorship deals, unlike UFC fighters, which are not permitted to wear sponsorship brands.

These opportunities are some of the reasons we’ve seen a couple of MMA fighters switch sides to join the WWE.

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