best mma promotions

11 Best MMA Organizations and Promotions In the World (2024)

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While there’s no denying that the UFC is by far the most well-known MMA organization. 

There is a lot more to MMA than just the UFC. 

I often find myself watching some of the smaller organizations, as I find it fascinating to watch these up-and-coming fighters at the beginning of their career.

With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at the 11 best MMA organizations in the world. We’ll break down what they’re about, give a bit of back story and let you know what to expect from these promotions. 

Let’s get to it. 

11. Eagle FC

best mma promotions - eagle FC

I was unsure whether or not to put this on this list, and it can probably be considered an honorary mention. 

That said, given the fact that it’s run by one of the greatest and most well-known MMA fighters of this generation, I thought it still deserved a place on our list. 

Eagle FC is a Russian MMA promotion, formerly known as Gorilla Fighting Championship. Former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurganomedov bought Gorilla FC back in 2017 when it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Eagle FC hosted its first event in August 2021 and has since hosted 13 events (as of June 2023). These events have mostly taken place in Russia, however, they have hosted a handful of cards in Florida. 

The cards predominantly feature up-and-coming Russian fighters that are relatively unknown in the west. That said, a few MMA veterans and former UFC fighters have competed for Eagle FC, such as Kevin Lee and Diego Sanchez. 

Given the fact that Eagle FC hasn’t been around too long, the overall production quality is top tier and the level of fights they put on is really impressive. It’s safe to say that I’m very excited to see what else Eagle FC has in store in the future, and will be sure to update this post as it happens. 

Although it is worth noting that Khabib himself has said he is stepping away from the MMA industry. I just hope this doesn’t have too big of an impact on Eagle FC. 

You can check out the fight between Kevin Lee and Diego Sanchez in the video below, and you may even recognize some of the voices coming from the commentator’s booth.

10. Cage Warriors

Cage Warriors is a UK-based MMA organization that’s been home to multiple UFC fighters and Champions over the years (Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping). 

Being from the UK myself, Cage Warriors is my go-to organization to see up-and-coming prospects, and Cage Warriors has a ton of them. The good news is that they put on events on a very regular basis, usually 2 or 3 times a month and virtually every card has some top-notch fights to see. 

If you know anything about MMA, you’ll definitely be aware of a number of Cage Warriors alumni that have gone on to earn a big name for themselves in the UFC. Most notable, is Conor McGregor. 

Similarly to his time in the UFC, McGregor earned himself both the Featherweight and Lightweight titles whilst competing under Cage Warriors.

Paddy Pimlett is also a fellow Cage Warriors veteran, where he spent the majority of his career before making his debut for the UFC. Similarly to McGregor, Pimblett was Cage Warriors Lightweight Champion and was just as loud and in your face back then as he is today. 

The fact that so many Cage Warriors fighters have gone on to the UFC is a testament to the caliber of their roster. Although this list of Cage Warriors fighters who made the move to the UFC is far too long to recite here (there are over 70 of them), I’ll list a few notable names that I’m sure you’ll recognize. 

  • Dan Hardy – 12-1-0-1 CWFC
  • Arnold Allen – 5-1 CWFC
  • Conor McGregor – 4-1 CWFC
  • Joanne Calderwood – 1-0 CWFC
  • Michael Bisping – 4-0 CWFC

9. AMC Fight Nights Global

AMC Fight Nights is a Russian MMA organization that hosts regular events featuring up-and-coming Russian fighters. Think of AMC Fight Nights as Russia’s version of Cage Warriors. 

The promotion was started in 2010 and has grown significantly since then. In 2015 they were purchased by Summa Group, at which point they renamed Fight Nights Global. Fight Nights Global then continued to expand, announcing in 2018 they will be hosting international events in the US and Brazil. 

In 2020, Fight Nights Global changed hands yet again and was rebranded to AMC Fight Nights Global. Since changing ownership, AMC has put on very few events (thanks to Covid), so it will be interesting to see how and if it continues to develop. 

7. M-1 Global

M-1 Global is a Russian MMA organization that’s been hosting events since 2009. 

Although starting relatively small, they have grown to the point of hosting around 20 events a year, and have had some of the biggest names in MMA grace their octagon. 

In July of 2018, M-1 Global and the UFC struck a partnership deal, serving as the UFC’s primary scouting organization for talent in Russia. This deal provides the opportunity for M-1 Champions to sign with the UFC. 

They also host an interesting competition, similar to the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter, called M-1 Selection. This sees Russian MMA prospects compete against each other in an elimination format, with the winner signing for M-1. 

6. Invicta Fighting Championship

Invicta Fighting Championship is a women’s only MMA promotion dedicated to showcasing the best that women’s MMA has to offer. 

Born out of a worry that female fighters may lack representation after Strikeforce was acquired by the UFC, Invicta FC has hosted some of the most famous fighters in the world. Many current UFC fighters have fought for Invicta Fighting Championship at one point or another. 

These include Joanne Calderwood, Rose Namajunas, Alexa Grasso, Amanda Nunes, and many more

While not as regular as other promotions, Invicta FC hosts an event every other month or so, putting on 6 cards throughout 2022. 

5. Rizin Fighting Federation (Rizin FF)

Rizin FF is a well-known Japanese organization that hosts a variety of combat sports events. They were founded by former Pride and Dream Stage Entertainment president Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Sakakibrara put his knowledge and experience to good use, bringing Rizin to screens across the world. 

Alongside MMA, Rizin FF puts on boxing and kickboxing events and even hosted several exhibition bouts with Floyd Mayweather. 

Most famously, not long after his retirement, Mayweather announced he would compete against one of Rizin’s well-known stars, Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition boxing match. Although Nasuwaka is a deadly kickboxer, Mayweather went undefeated in his career for a reason and made short work of their highly watched exhibition. 

4. Professional Fighters League (PFL)

The PFL has such an interesting format, and I for one, am here for it. Unlike some of the other MMA promotions, the PFL utilizes a league/ season format, which in my opinion, makes it one of the best MMA promotions to watch. 

This sees all fighters in the league compete against each other, aiming to earn as many points as possible throughout the season. The top four fighters at the end of the season then enter the playoffs, with the winner taking home a prize of $1,000,000. 

This is incredibly unique and is a refreshing change of pace, as it’s similar to supporting your favorite sports team, where other fighters’ performances can have an impact on your standings at the table. It just does a great job of drawing you in and being invested in your favorite fighters. 

Although somewhat new compared to other promotions out there, the PFL has done a great job of developing a large fan base and putting on top-notch shows across the world.

In more recent news, the PFL recently signed former UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. 

3. ONE Championship

Up next we’ve got ONE Championship, an Asia-based MMA organization with a huge following. They’ve recently made the move over to the US, signing a broadcasting deal with Amazon.

What I love about ONE FC is their willingness to do things differently. For example, they’re one of the only MMA promotions that require hydration testing before a fight. This helps to prevent fighters from cutting massive amounts of weight. This is of course much safer for fighters, as cutting weight has serious health-related consequences. 

Reduced weight cutting also makes fights more exciting, as the fighters are on death’s door 24 hours before fighting and can compete to their full potential. 

ONE Championship isn’t strictly MMA. They host events ranging from Kickboxing to No-Gi BJJ, all on the same card. They’re even known to put on hybrid fights, such as Mighty Mouse Vs Rodtang. This fight alternated between MMA and Muay Thai and was awesome to watch. 

They also have had their fair share of big-name fighters, such as Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson, and Ben Askren (pre-flying knee). 

If you’re in the US, you’ll need an Amazon subscription to check out their events live, but for a lot of places, you can watch their events free on their website or on YouTube.

2. Bellator MMA

Bellator has been around for a long time and has been home to some of the most well-known names in MMA. A couple of former UFC fighters are currently champions over at Bellator, such as Sergio Pettis and Cris Cyborg. 

Founded in 2009, Bellator hosts events around the world on a regular basis. Taking a page out of the PFL book, Bellator recently announced that they will be hosting a Lightweight World Grand Prix. This will see 8 fighters compete against each other for a prize of $1,000,000. 

As of the time of writing, Bellator has hosted a whopping 260 live events over 8 countries and 34 states in the US. 

1. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

It’s largely thanks to the UFC that MMA has achieved the mainstream success it enjoys today.

While I won’t go into the whole history of the UFC, as we’ll be here a long time, let’s just say it’s been one hell of a journey.

A quick TLDR of the UFC:

The UFC was founded in 1993 by Rorion Gracie and Art Davie, as a way of showcasing BJJ’s effectiveness against other disciplines and bringing more eyes to the sport. 

Fast forward around a decade, along comes Dana White and the Fertitta brothers, who purchase the UFC for $2,000,000 in 2001. With a whopping $40,000,000 investment, they managed to turn the UFC into a recognizable promotion of a legitimate sport. 

Let’s fast forward again to 2016, Dana White and the Ferttitas cash out their stake in the UFC for $4 billion, selling their shares in the company to Endeavor. 

So, I think it’s safe to say that the UFC started from very humble beginnings and went on to explode in popularity, becoming one of the most-watched sporting promotions in the world. 

So, for those that don’t know, what is the UFC all about?

The UFC is the premier MMA promotion, home to the best talent and often the best fights in the world. 

They host events on a pretty regular basis, with a Fight Night taking place once or twice a month, and a big PPV event happening every month or so. They also have a number of other shows/ events that you can check out, such as the Ultimate Fighter and the Contender Series. 

On top of that, they’ve got their entire library of fights available on UFC Fight Pass, so if you’re looking to watch MMA, there’s plenty to be had at the UFC. 

Best MMA Promotions in the World: Final Thoughts 

Well, there we have it. 

I hope you’ve found a few new gems in our list of the best MMA promotions in the world. 

While you can’t argue that the UFC has the best fighters, and puts on a great show, I do enjoy watching these other promotions. Plus, across all the other organizations, it’s hard to find a weekend without having any MMA to watch, and that in my book, is a damn good thing. 

Thanks for stopping by. 

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