Photo Credit: MMA Fighting

The UFC Without Fans Might be Better


All sports are affected one way or another from a live audience. However, the UFC is proving that there does not need to be a crowd at the fights in order for their business to remain successful and entertaining. The reason why is because the fighters do not need to heavily rely on the audience for their performance.


In football, the crowd is a huge part of the experience. The most common time to hear the fans cheer during the game is when the road team is on offense, which is where the popular “defense” chant is used. The fans are integral in these situations because if they all collectively be as loud as humanly possible, they have the potential to make the opposing team not be able to communicate and hear each other for which play that they want to run, which audibles to call, and when to snap the ball. You also see this happening when the road teams attempt to kick field goals, especially game-winning attempts. 

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Photo Credit: Terrence Quaites Franchise Sports Media

That is why various teams have nicknames for their fan bases like “The 12th Man” (Seattle Seahawks) or “The Black Hole” (Las Vegas Raiders). When the home team is on offense, you can sometimes see the quarterback signal to the fans to quiet down as much as possible to the point where you can even hear the quarterback yell out his signals before snapping the ball when watching games on television.

For basketball, being loud and chanting “defense” is also common. Instead of field goals, you can often hear the crowd be the loudest when the road team is attempting free throws. As opposed, when the home team is shooting free throws, the audience can be quiet enough to hear a pin drop (Except when they are chanting “MVP” for star player).

In college, the student section can even be seen raising their hands and fingers in a ritualistic way while being quiet to give their home school “good luck” to make their free throws. The Rebellion puts up an “LV” with their fingers while the Runnin’ Rebels are shooting their free throws. Arenas also use their PA systems to play little song snippets like “charge” or “Everybody clap your hands” to keep the crowd involved throughout the games.

Like basketball, baseball stadiums also use their PA systems to play snippets to keep the audience engaged and be a part of the experience. This generally happens more towards the middle innings of a game and proceeds to continue until the end of the game depending on how close a game is.

The fans always seem to be loud at the beginning of games as their home team takes the field or comes up to bat because of the initial excitement of being at the ball game. If the game is really close going into the final innings, we all know that the crowd is fully invested in making their presence felt to help their home team win. There is just something about that built up anticipation of the crowd screaming and waving their towels every time a pitch is thrown to see what the batter will do in the late innings in those October games. Those instances give me chills just thinking about it.

In the game of soccer, the fan base culture is a whole other monster. Each team usually has multiple team club fan bases that cheer for them. Although they are all cheering for the same team, they are honestly competition, maybe even enemies towards each other to see who can be the loudest and passionate for their beloved team. Those fans are non-stop cheering for their team for 90-plus minutes, no matter if they are winning or losing. A live audience is undoubtedly a huge part of soccer, perhaps more so than any other sport in the world.


So far, the UFC has been showing that the sport of mixed martial arts does not necessarily need a crowd to still be entertaining or successful as a professional sport.


If you really think about it, the fights are mainly about each fighter focusing on the gameplan their coaches and themselves prepared for when studying their respective opponents. What the live audience in the stands does has close to no effect on how the fighters chose to perform.

It seems that people were skeptical at first because they were the first major professional sport to resume in the country since the Coronavirus forced all sports to a halt. At the time, the only company attempting to still perform was WWE. Obviously, WWE is completely different from the UFC because although it is real-life action, it is also staged combat. Another huge reason why it just was not working for the WWE was that there were no fans. It just looked so awkward to see the wrestlers performing and talking on the mic with their theatrics without anyone in the crowd.

The WWE and their product relies so heavily on their fan base, also what is known as the WWE Universe. The crowd plays such a huge factor in deciding the athletes’ status anywhere from being in need of a lot more work to being at the top of elite superstardom and everything in between. They play a factor in who are the heels (Villains) and babyfaces (Good guys).

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

On the other hand, when watching the UFC, you are almost never really looking out into the crowd during fights, the focus is all on the fighters in the Octagon. The only time where it gets a bit awkward is when Bruce Buffer is introducing the fighters of the main event using his trademark “It’s time!” Buffer shouted that out with the wide shot of the arena and the lights dimming down to the Octagon, to reveal an empty arena at UFC 249 last month.

The ringside commentators took a little time to get used to being the only ones in the arena actually talking loud enough to hear themselves without needing their headsets. By the time of the main event, the commentators were already used to it and kind of seemed to like the idea of being able to hear themselves, along with the coaches shouting out instructions and fighters trash talking to each other during the fights.

Besides that, there were not many other moments of awkwardness for the absence of fans in the crowd. Henry Cejudo defeated Dominick Cruz via TKO to defend his title and Justin Gaethje straight out dominated Tony Ferguson to win the interim championship, and the rest was history. Dana White and his product proved that professional sports can still be successful and entertaining in the Coronavirus era despite not having any fans. However, the UFC might be the only sport to be able to pull that off.


With the NBA announcing a resume to their season playing all their games with no fans in Orlando, we will just have to wait and see how those games turn out.


Various sources recently said that the PA systems in the arena may try to use “live crowd noises” from NBA2K to help create the atmosphere of fans being there, but that honestly sounds lame and contrived in my opinion. That is like when comedy shows add a laugh track, forcing the audience to think their joke was funny when it really wasn’t.

I am pretty certain that it will be tremendously awkward seeing NBA games with no one in attendance, but I honestly do not care because basketball is my favorite sport and I am excited that it is coming back. I still wish we were able to see the NCAA Tournament, even if it would have been with no fans.


The NBA will not come back until late July, so in the meantime, it is all up to the UFC to provide us with live sports that are entertaining even without fans. 


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-Isaiah Torres – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


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