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The link between UFC popularity and white supremacists

I listened to Eddie Goldman's podcast from a few weeks ago. One topic was the relationship between the boom in popularity of UFC and increasing numbers of fans from white supremacist groups. I have heard before that Mr. Goldman is critical of the ufc and so you have to be careful about believing 100% what you hear, but still I think he makes interesting points.

In the UFC's boom phase, does a bigger part of their increase in popularity come from white supremacist fans? Also, if ufc is aware of this extra popularity among these types of fans, does UFC try consciously to improve its marketing or change the product to target them?

I don't think anybody can really know the answer to the second question. It is obvious that UFC cards have more Caucasian fighters than other promotions. Not just promotions in Japan, but also in Brazil and maybe even Europe? But there could be other reasons, like if most people training MMA in America are Caucasian. I don't know if this is the case.

So what about the first question? Is there a link between UFC popularity and white supremacist fans? There is no easy science about this. I am sure Dana White hired a marketing survey company to tell him where UFC's growth demographics are, but I don't have money for such things. I was curious, though, so I tried Google Trends. I picked two big names in the MMA world, Liddell and Sakuraba. Here are the results for hits by countries:

"Liddell" country hits

"Sakuraba" country hits

Do you see a difference? The five top countries for Liddell have a lot more hits than all the other countries. Also, each of them is a country with a majority Caucasian population and English is the main language. I am not sure if language is important. On the other hand, hits for Sakuraba come from many different countries in many different parts of the world. Of course, Japan is not one of them, since people will search his name using kanji.

This made me more curious, so I wondered what the breakdown looks like within one country, i.e., the USA.

"Liddell" USA city hits

"Sakuraba" USA city hits

For Liddell, the top two cities are like his headquarters, so that makes sense. Looking at the rest, there seem to be a lot of hits in places like Texas and Oklahoma. Some of the top hits are not big cities; they are maybe more like rural areas. It is more concentrated there than I would expect given that UFC popularity is growing everywhere in America. Sakuraba hits are concentrated in California cities, but also some of the largest USA cities, like New York and Chicago.

Of course, I know it is not a perfect methodology. First, Google Trends seems to aggregate hit results into large areas for cities, so it is not easy to distinguish between urban and rural hits, for example. Second, depending on the region, there could be other persons named Liddell and Sakuraba that would affect the results. Or maybe those words have other meanings in some languages. There are other reasons to be cautious. However, I think the results are pretty interesting anyhow.

By the way, some of UFC's most popular fighters, like Chuck Liddell and Tim Sylvia, are going to be in a new movie with parts as white supremacists. I found this out by accident by typing "UFC" and "white supremacists" in my web search. I wonder if UFC knew about this production beforehand. And did UFC need to give permission? Hopefully people will be smart enough to realize that Chuck is acting, not endorsing.

By the way, thanks to Nick for helping me more than usual with cleaning up this posting. This is a very difficult topic. It is hard to write clearly about this kind of sensitive issue.

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