Best MMA Promotions Outside the UFC (Top 7) (2023)

Best MMA Promotions Outside the UFC (Top 7) (1)

The UFC has been the biggest MMA promotion and the leader in the MMA world for over two decades now. It’s hard to think of any promotion that can match their success or even come close to it.

This is because UFC is a powerful brand and the first-ever MMA promotion in the west. And of course, it is the home of the best fighters and its events are huge. All the MMA talents in the world will, at some point, end up fighting in the UFC. That’s just how this game works.

But all these fighters need to work their way up in some other promotions before the UFC recognizes their talent and potential. Even though they are not as popular as the UFC, these promotions offer good entertainment. And trust us, the MMA game is a fast-rising one and we may see some promotions listed below emerging and challenging UFC in the future.

7. Absolute Championship Akhmat

Also known as ACB, ACA is a Russian organization that promotes MMA, kickboxing, and BJJ matches. Most of the ACA events took place in Russia, as well as in other countries across the world.

ACA is one of the leading European MMA promotion for a reason. Whether it’s BJJ or MMA, all their events look very professional and the quality of competition is good. Over the years, many ACB fighters went on to compete inside the UFC cage and do well. The most famous one is, of course, the UFC champ Petr Yan.

You can watch ACB events on Match TV and they are also streaming them on social media platforms. It’s really worth checking out.

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6. Rizin Fighting Federation

Rizin is a Japanese MMA promotion founded by the former “Pride FC” bosses. In the 2000s, Pride FC was the biggest MMA promotion, even bigger than UFC.

Rizin came in with the idea to gather the best fighters from other promotions, let them fight, and find out who’s the best. Yet, this idea is still up in the air and has never lived up to its potential. Even though this sounds great, it is a bit too ambitious.

But, we could see a couple of very famous MMA fighters competing inside the Rizin ring. In 2016, Rizin held a heavyweight tournament, won by the MMA legend, Mirko CroCop. The event saw some other famous faces like King Mo and Wanderlei Silva who backed off from the event due to injury.

And also, Rizin has been a home of many freak show fights like the one between the kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa and boxer Floyd Mayweather. We can all recall how that played out.

But overall, Rizin is still very young and we may expect it to grow in the following years.

5. M-1 Global

Founded in 1997, M-1 is the most famous Russian MMA promotion and home of many skilled fighters. M-1 also operates at a high rate as it includes around 10–20 events per year, which is a lot.

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M-1 events also include various types of martial art competition. One of the best is “M-1 Selection” which represents a proving ground for the upcoming fighters. M-1 gives them a chance to showcase their skills on the world stage and in front of many people watching.

In 2018, the promotion started collaborating with the UFC where the M-1 will be the farm league for the UFC to find the best Russian fighters. This is great for M-1 since the UFC will help them preparing new events and sign their best fighters.

Throughout history, many great MMA fighters came out of M-1 Global. Some of the most famous ones are UFC contender Alexander Volkov and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

4. Professional Fighters League (PFL)

Founded in 2012, PFL is an American promotion and its concept is unique and different. In short, PFL presents MMA in the format of, let’s say, NBA basketball. We know this sounds weird at first, but it’s actually very simple. Here is how it works.

Every PFL season starts in May and ends in August. It consists of six weight classes, six events, and around 72 fighters in total. First, fighters compete in a regular season. They receive three points for winning every fight, one point in case of a draw, and zero for losses. Also, they can earn bonus points for finishing the fight inside the first (3 points), second (2 points), or third round (1 point).

Once the regular season is over, eight fighters with the most points will advance to the playoff (elimination) round. The six winners of each weight class will win the prize of $1 million dollars.

All fighters compete under the Unified Rules of MMA and in the unique ten-sided cage (decagon).

3. KSW

In our opinion, the Polish KSW is the best European MMA promotion and its events are huge. It embraces a WWE model of preparing and holding events just a couple of times a year. But, we can see them slowly adding more and more events per year.

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KSW puts a lot of effort into creating a story behind every event, and they all visually look different. Some of its largest events, like KSW 39, included a live audience of 57.000 people.

As you would expect, KSW is gigantic in Poland, and their events look amazing. From great visual effects to the great production, they top quality and even better than the UFC for instance.

KSW roster is filled with skilled Polish and European fighters. And when it comes to money, they are treating their fighters really, really good. In fact, most of the fighters can earn more in KSW than in some other, bigger promotions like the UFC.

This is a great way for KSW to keep the fighters inside the promotion and prevent them from leaving. And this is exactly what makes KSW so strong. KSW champ Roberto Soldic once said he turned down the UFC contract because KSW pays much better.

You can watch all KSW events on their official streaming channel KSWTV at a very reasonable price.


ONE FC is the fastest growing MMA promotion on the east. And many people see it as a promotion that will challenge UFC in the future. Founded in 2011, ONE features MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing fights which are very popular all across Asia.

Further, it is made up of ten weight classes out of which four are female divisions. Unlike in other promotions, ONE FC has a much different weigh-ins format. After the death of a 21-year-old Chinese fighter in 2015, ONE FC banned cutting weight by dehydration. As a result, the weight cut process is much healthier and fighters cut less weight.

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ONE FC is also stacked with talented fighters from top to bottom. In the last few years, we have even seen many UFC fighters joining ONE. The most famous ones are former UFC champs Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez.


Bellator is, perhaps, the second-best MMA promotion in the world. Like some other from this list, Bellator also features kickboxing matches, MMA matches as well as MMA tournaments.

Bellator consists of nine weight classes, two of which are female divisions (145lbs; 125lbs). Its roster includes some very famous names and former UFC fighters and champions. Basically, whenever UFC ends a contract with one fighter, he/she would likely sign a new deal with Bellator. That’s how it usually goes.

Further, let’s have a look at the Bellator tournament format as it is very interesting. Here is how it works:

Each tournament includes nine weight classes with eight fighters competing in each one. It starts with the opening round in which we have four fights per weight class. Four winners would then proceed to the semi-finals and finals.

We have to point out that each tournament lasts three months and there is a one month break between the opening round and finals.

So in total, finalists of the tournament have to fight three times in three months. That’s a lot!

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What is the best MMA promotion? ›

M-1 Global is also known by the several different names Mixfight-1 or the MMA-1 (Mixed martial arts-1). The organization started with the small tournament in 1997 and today it hosts the top tournaments for 20 years. Today M-1 Global is the top organisation in the world hosting the top events.

Is the UFC the best MMA promotion? ›

MMA, of course, is more than just the UFC. While the UFC is easily the biggest promotion in the sport, it's certainly not the only one. All over the world, other organizations are promoting their own spins on MMA—and most of them are very much worth watching.

Who is the No 1 fighter in the world? ›

UFC Men's Pound-for-Pound Rankings 2022
1Alexander Volkanovski25–1
2Israel Adesanya23–1
3Charles Oliveira33–8 (1 NC)
4Kamaru Usman20-2
11 more rows
3 days ago

Which MMA organization has the best fighters? ›

Fight Nights Global (FNG)

It is one of the best MMA organizations in the world and has some of the best fighters in MMA sport. It is founded in 2010 in Moscow, Russia.

What else is there other than UFC? ›

  • Bellator MMA.
  • ONE Championship.
  • Invicta Fighting Championships.
  • Jungle Fight.
  • Professional Fighters League.
  • Rizin Fighting Federation.
  • Pride Fighting Championships.
  • World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC)

Who is the hardest hitting UFC fighter of all time? ›

Francis Ngannou is the hardest-hitting athlete in UFC history, according to the mixed martial arts firm itself. The heavyweight champion retained his title Saturday while exhibiting skills secondary to his striking, such as a wrestling prowess that kept challenger Ciryl Gane at bay through the five-round fight.

What was the first MMA promotion? ›

The first use of the term by a promotion was in September 1995 by Rick Blume, president and CEO of Battlecade Extreme Fighting, just after UFC 7. UFC official Jeff Blatnick was responsible for the Ultimate Fighting Championship officially adopting the name mixed martial arts.

Is Bellator better than UFC? ›

Are the Fighters in Bellator Just as Good as the Fighters in the UFC? The short answer is: no, they are not. UFC is the best MMA promotion in the world and the home of the best fighters. Just about every skilled fighter who does well in other promotions, including Bellator, ends up signing for the UFC at some point.

What is the second best MMA promotion? ›

Bellator is, perhaps, the second-best MMA promotion in the world. Like some other from this list, Bellator also features kickboxing matches, MMA matches as well as MMA tournaments. Bellator consists of nine weight classes, two of which are female divisions (145lbs; 125lbs).

Where is MMA most popular? ›

Rankings of countries by the level of MMA
1United States227074.0
36 more rows

Which country has best fighters? ›

Best UFC Fighters by Their Nationality
  • Georges St-Pierre – Canada.
  • Fedor Emelianenko – Russia.
  • Jon Jones – United States.
  • Anderson Silva – Brazil.
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov – Russia.
  • Demetrious Johnson – United States.
  • Jose Aldo – Brazil.
  • Dominick Cruz – United States.
15 Jul 2022

Who is best fighter of all time? ›

1. Muhammad Ali. The Greatest was not only one of the best heavyweights of all time, he was also one of the most colorful. He won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics and went on to become the first boxer to win the heavyweight title three times.

Who is the most skilled fighter in the world? ›

  • Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov. 29-0-0. ...
  • "Thug" Rose Namajunas. 11-5-0. ...
  • Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier. 28-7-0, 1 NC. ...
  • Johny "Big Rig" Hendricks. 18-8-0. ...
  • Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez. 30-8-0, 2 NC. ...
  • "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler. 29-16-0, 1 NC. ...
  • Joanna Jędrzejczyk. 16-5-0. ...
  • "The Notorious" Conor McGregor. 22-6-0. Recent Fights:

Does Bellator pay more than UFC? ›

Bellator doesn't pay more than the UFC, but it can depend on each fighter's status to how much they can earn. Bellator can pay as low as $1,500 for a preliminary fighter on a card. The UFC has a minimum $10,000 payout for any fighter on their card.

Which is bigger UFC or FC? ›

Because the UFC is the biggest MMA promotion in the world, it earns more money from its bigger audience than One Championship. This allows UFC to pay their fighters a bit more and give more significant fight bonuses during events.

How much do Bellator fighters get paid? ›

Light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (on an $80,000 to show/$80,000 to win basis) and Corey Anderson ($250,000 flat) will collide with the winner making an additional $1 million. The total payout or show money is $1.378 million.

Who has the strongest punch? ›

'" Ngannou holds the record for the hardest punch ever landed at 129,161 units, with Dana White putting that figure into real-life situations.

Who has the fastest punch in the world? ›

Keith Liddell is a mathematician and author. He holds the record for the "fastest punch" in the Guinness World Records. The punch was registered at 45 miles per hour.

What's the hardest punch ever recorded? ›

Ngannou himself holds the current record for the hardest punch in the world, having clocked a striking power of 129,161 units on a PowerKube, which measures the power of a punch based on a variety of different factors, including force, speed and accuracy.

Who is the father of MMA? ›

Bruce Lee is widely considered to be the father of MMA because of his philosophy of combining aspects of various fighting disciplines into a personal style. This is a cornerstone principle for any MMA fighter that gets into the ring. A fighter who rigidly sticks to one discipline is disadvantaged.

Who invented MMA? ›

It started in Japan's Shooto organization, founded by Satoru "Tiger Mask" Sayama, in 1985 as a realistic and effective system of combat derived from shoot wrestling, but for most fans, MMA as we know it started on November 12, 1993 in Denver, Colorado, which was the night of UFC 1.

Does Kung Fu work in MMA? ›

Conclusion. Kung Fu as a martial art is not so good for MMA because of three main reasons: it isn't using 'live-opponents' for training, it is full of MMA illegal moves, and it isn't teaching ground or clinch combat.

Is MMA a real sport? ›

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills from a mixture of other combat sports to be used in competition. The rules allow usage of both striking and grappling techniques while standing and on the ground.

Is karate useful in MMA? ›

Karate is effective in MMA, especially when accompanied by other martial arts training. Karate is excellent for striking and fighting when fighters are on their feet. However, karate alone offers no training for grappling and clinching, a vital aspect of MMA. Nevertheless, karate is a good base for learning MMA.

Is MMA the best fighting style? ›

MMA is not just the fastest-rising sport in the world. It is perhaps, the most versatile fighting style, that is often seen as the best one when it comes to any type of fighting. Whether it's a fight on the feet, in the clinch, or on the ground, MMA covers all the elements.

Does UFC pay for travel? ›

They UFC pays for one hotel room. You can put all 4 guys in that one room or get another room, an AirBnB, or whatever you want. If you don't use the hotel, they will reimburse you for the room you didn't use.

What is Dana White Worth? ›

$500 million

Is UFC really the best? ›

When it comes to the sport of MMA, UFC fighters are widely regarded as the best. But at the same time, there have been a number of top fighters from other promotions who have made a transition to the UFC and managed to do well against top-level fighters in their debut.

Why is UFC the best promotion? ›

It has the highest pay per view sales and viewership

UFC has by far the highest pay per view sales and no other promotion can come even close. For instance, Bellator is the second-best MMA promotion in the world and the highest they got thus far is 100,000 buys.

Is UFC or one championship better? ›

Ultimately, One Championship has a large roster of various martial arts experts, but it doesn't have the same quality of fighters that can be found in the UFC. As the UFC has been around for the longest, it commands the greatest attention and the best fighters.

Does Bellator pay more than UFC? ›

Bellator doesn't pay more than the UFC, but it can depend on each fighter's status to how much they can earn. Bellator can pay as low as $1,500 for a preliminary fighter on a card. The UFC has a minimum $10,000 payout for any fighter on their card.

How much do Bellator fighters get paid? ›

Light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (on an $80,000 to show/$80,000 to win basis) and Corey Anderson ($250,000 flat) will collide with the winner making an additional $1 million. The total payout or show money is $1.378 million.

What is the second best MMA league? ›

MMA promotions rankings
1Ultimate Fighting Championship46898.0
2Bellator MMA20283.0
3Absolute Championship Akhmat19433.0
4Cage Warriors Fighting Championship13201.0
36 more rows

What is Dana White Worth? ›

$500 million

How does the UFC promote? ›

UFC's marketing and business strategy

From a business perspective, UFC is one big brand, following the business model of pro wrestling. Instead of focusing on the events themselves, UFC tends to promote the fighters by building up their personas and their stories. It's an effective tool that can draw more people in.

Who is the best fighter in ONE Championship? ›

Demetrious Johnson
1Adriano Moraes
2Kairat Akhmetov
3Yuya Wakamatsu
4Danny Kingad
5Reece McLaren

Which is bigger UFC or MMA? ›

UFC Is the Major Organisation/Promotion Within That Sport. MMA stands for mixed martial arts. It is a sport that has only really come to prominence relevantly recently but it's actually been about for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Does ONE Championship make money? ›

ONE Championship expects to turn a profit in three years despite the combat sports company seeing its losses increase 125 per cent year-over-year (YoY) to US$111 million for 2021. Singapore-based ONE's revenue grew 19.1 per cent YoY to US$67.7 million, according to financial documents seen by DealStreetAsia.

How much do lower tier UFC fighters make? ›

The fighters usually sign a contract for a certain amount of fights for a fixed amount of money each time they step inside the Octagon. The three tiers are low, medium, and high, with the lowest earning between $10,000 and $30,000, and the highest tier raking in between $500,000 and $3,000,000 per fight.

How much do KSW fighters make? ›

So, the exact salary of your typical KSW fighter is not known, nor is it publicly available. In Bellator, the lowest pay a fighter gets is $10,000 per fight. However, it may be less than this in KSW as it is based in Poland and as mentioned previously, the average salary there is quite low compared to the US.

How much do Eagle FC fighters make? ›

The base pay for UFC champions, before bonus checks and pay-per-view points, often ranges between $200,000 and $700,000. Lee makes his Eagle FC debut on March 11 when he faces fellow Octagon veteran and UFC Hall-of-Famer Deigo Sanchez.

Does UFC pay for travel? ›

They UFC pays for one hotel room. You can put all 4 guys in that one room or get another room, an AirBnB, or whatever you want. If you don't use the hotel, they will reimburse you for the room you didn't use.

Do amatuer MMA fighters get paid? ›

By definition, you won't get paid because you're not a professional. So don't come into the amateur circuit expecting McGregor's car collection. Even low-level pros don't get paid that much, considering their skills.

Are UFC fighters underpaid? ›

The UFC in the early 2000s paid as much as 40% of their profits to fighters. That number has steadily decreased since that time. The most recent numbers suggest that fighters make 16% of the UFC profits, which is a far cry from the 50% that the NBA and NFL players get.


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