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JD Sports | December 14, 2023

Which Countries Have the Most World Champions in UFC & MMA?

Thanks to Joe Rogan, Hasbulla, and champions with charisma to match prime MMA has done a stellar job of sneaking into the public eye.

Eschewing its Ancient Greek heritage, merging with WWE to form media conglomerate TKO, and producing adored heroes such as Conor McGregor, Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov, all with fighting skills that could match prime Ares.

Led by its three largest institutions, UFC, Bellator, and ONE Championship, the sport has proven that the world has a voracious appetite for scrapping, and the swollen theater it brings, meaning MMA has risen from relative obscurity and blurry origins into a widely beloved and commercial phenomenon.

So, we decided to bridge the gap and bring MMA content to JD. 

To do this, we have been researching the greatest fighters in UFC history, finding out which countries, continents and places have produced the most fighters, champions and heroes, documenting them all in this blog.

That’s the premise; this is the article.

THE COUNTRIES WITH THE MOST MMA CHAMPIONS 

Many cultures have been swept away by the appeal of MMA. Its versatility, accessibility and economically friendly allure means it’s celebrated in all corners of the globe, ranging from the US, Brazil, Russia, Japan and even Australia.

The US reigns supreme as they have produced just shy of 80 champion fighters. Their closest challengers are Brazil, who have amassed around 30, followed by Russia, Japan and Canada, all with approximately 6-20 each. 

Notable US athletes include UFC heavyweight Jon Jones and inaugural UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, with fighters such as Anderson Silva representing Brazil, who held a remarkable UFC Middleweight Champion title from 2006-2013.

WHICH COUNTRY HAS THE MOST UFC CHAMPIONS 

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American-based MMA promotion company and is the biggest such MMA promoter in the world.

There are 16 countries across the world which have a world champion from UFC.

The top country is the United States with 46 UFC world champions, including current heavyweight Jon Jones, middleweight Dricus du Plessis, and bantamweight Sean O’Malley.

Next on the list is Brazil with 15 title winners, followed by Russia and the United Kingdom, both with three UFC world champions each.

MMA CHAMPIONS BY CONTINENT 

To deconstruct MMA by continent, we can see North America once again contributes the most to the pie. 

Countries like the US, Canada and Jamaica strengthen their grip over the sport by producing around 47% of the world elite. 

In fact, North America is so dominant that comparatively, the next strongest, Europe, can only boast around 19% of the total figure, with South America (17%), Asia (11%), Oceania (3.2%) and Africa (2%) making up the rest of the total leaderboard. 

MMA CHAMPIONS BY US STATE

So, what if we were to take a closer look at the dominance of the US? Breaking down their geography; finding out which of their states are the most effective at churning out MMA Champion fighters? 

Could it be that Sunshine is the crucial element to producing talented fighters? California says yes, among other things, having graduated the most MMA fighters in the USA. 

California has yielded fourteen MMA champions, making them the major contributor to the US dominance. 

The least would be Washington, which has produced zero champions and only four fighters overall. Washington has become a heavy set of knuckles, a hairy burden to be shamefully dragged by the rest of the USA’s exemplary fighter production line.

Other respectable candidates would be Ohio (9), New York (6), Illinois (6) and cold, cold Northern Wisconsin with just three.

MMA CHAMPIONS BY BRAZILIAN STATE

After the US, Brazil has done a solid job of asserting themselves as the next most prosperous producer of MMA athletes for the UFC.

Brazilian states such as Rio De Janeiro (6), São Paulo (5), Amazonas (3) and Rio Do Sul (3) can all take pride in helping produce a successful wave of Brazilian champions, flying the flag for not being the US on behalf of the entire world.

TOP 10 COUNTRIES WITH CHAMPIONS IN MOST WEIGHT CLASSES

When separating the data by weight class, the US dominates almost every division with Heavyweight (16), Light Heavyweight (12), Middleweight (10), Welterweight (10), Lightweight (9), Featherweight (8), Bantamweight (12), and Flyweight (1) all belonging to the Americans, making the UFC vulnerable to comparisons with Groundhog Day.

This is why we were so excited when we saw the results for Strawweight, a niche division for extremely light people (48-52 kg).

In this division, The Japanese (marginally) come out on top with two Strawweight champions against the USA’s one, making them the overall winners, thanks to victories for Saruta Yōsuke (猿田 洋祐) and Yamakita Keito (山北渓人) who were declared champions in 2019, and 2022 respectively. 

TOP 10 COUNTRIES WITH MOST MMA CHAMPIONS PER ONE MILLION PEOPLE

Moving on to population density – wherein we squeeze one million people from a single nation together, finding out which countries produce the most champions per one million of their population. 

We do this to gauge an estimate for how popular the sport is, see if we can see any potential for growth, and to make Latin American jam out of big cities like Buenos Aires.

Unsurprisingly, the US also dominates this category of squashed people, with an average of 0.24 champions pulped out per 1 Million. 

Compared against their 334.2 Million population – we get an indication for the sheer volume of the USA’s talent production. It’s easy to see how they’ve become so dominant.

The chasing pack mainly replicate previous trends, with Brazil (0.14), Russia (0.11), Japan (0.07) and the UK (0.05) making up the rest of the data. This is consistent with the other categories.

CONCLUSION

With the appeal of MMA growing globally, we must relinquish this current moment to the Americans. Whichever way we’ve sliced the data, the US has come out on top, producing the most Champions, athletes and titles to secure UFC dominance. 

However, that’s not to rule out the future of the sport. Brazil’s lead in the chasing pack, and the presence of other nations such as Russia and Japan suggest that MMA has a global and versatile appeal. With the sport becoming increasingly lucrative, elements like accessibility, commercial potential, and ability to produce exciting larger-than-life personalities will serve MMA well as it grows into the near future.

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