Understanding the Financial Impact of Small-Scale Combat Sports

July 18, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Imagine the pulsing adrenaline as the bell rings, the cheering crowd, the fighters in their corners – this is the thrilling world of combat sports. But behind the scenes of these high-octane events is another intense arena – the financial landscape of running a small-scale combat sports promotion.

Every punch thrown in the ring, every ticket sold, every merchandise item purchased, contributes to the intricate financial tapestry of the promotion. But weaving this tapestry isn’t an easy task. It involves manoeuvring tight budget constraints, diversifying revenue streams, attracting sponsorships, and so much more.

Lets peel back the canvas on the financial dynamics of running a small-scale combat sports promotion. We’ll explore everything from the costs and revenue sources to the economic impacts on local communities.

Revenue Sources: The Financial Lifeline

When it comes to the financial sustainability of small-scale combat sports promotions, diverse revenue sources play a pivotal role. These promotions, though smaller in scale, operate much like their larger counterparts, relying on multiple income streams to fund their operations and growth.

  • Ticket Sales: The most direct source of revenue for any combat sports promotion is ticket sales. These include both physical tickets for attendees and pay-per-view tickets for online viewers. The pricing can vary based on the event’s scale, the fighters involved, and the viewing platform.
  • Broadcasting Rights: In today’s digital age, broadcasting rights have become a significant revenue source. Live streaming platforms or television networks often pay to broadcast the events. These rights can be sold on a per-event basis or as a part of a broader deal.
  • Merchandise: Selling branded merchandise like t-shirts, caps, posters, and more is another way to generate income. Not only does this provide revenue, but it also helps in building the promotion’s brand identity.
  • Sponsorship Deals: Partnerships with businesses that sponsor events or fighters are another vital revenue source. Sponsors receive visibility and promotion in return for financial support, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.


The UK-based Cage Warriors stands as a remarkable example of a small-scale promotion that has successfully capitalised on diverse revenue streams. Despite operating in a highly competitive market, they’ve navigated their way to financial sustainability, demonstrating the potential that resides within small-scale combat sports promotions.

  • Ticket Sales: A dedicated and passionate fan base is a crucial asset for any sports promotion, and Cage Warriors has cultivated just that. The promotion has a robust local following, with fans consistently turning out for their live events. But their reach extends beyond the fans who pack their venues. Cage Warriors has embraced digital technology to offer pay-per-view options for global viewers who can’t attend in person, creating an additional, lucrative revenue stream.
  • Broadcasting Rights: In a strategic move that expanded their international reach while providing a consistent source of revenue, Cage Warriors negotiated a deal with UFC Fight Pass. This agreement allows them to broadcast their events to UFC’s vast global audience, amplifying their visibility and capturing a larger pool of international viewers.
  • Merchandise: Cage Warriors has created another income source through merchandise sales. They offer a wide range of Cage Warriors-branded merchandise, including clothing, accessories, and memorabilia. This not only contributes to their revenue but also helps to strengthen their brand identity among fans, fostering a sense of community and loyalty that extends beyond the live events.
  • Sponsorship Deals: Building partnerships with sponsors is another significant area where Cage Warriors has thrived. The promotion has secured sponsorships from several companies, ranging from sports gear manufacturers to online gaming sites. These partnerships provide much-needed financial support for the promotion, while sponsors benefit from advertising opportunities during events, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

Cage Warriors’ approach to revenue diversification is more than a financial success story; it’s an inspiring testament to the potential of small-scale combat sports promotions. Starting from humble beginnings, Cage Warriors has grown into a substantial player in the MMA world, achieving financial sustainability while fostering grassroots talent development. Their story exemplifies the power of strategic planning, and the success that can come from effectively diversifying revenue streams. Their success serves as a guiding light for other small-scale promotions charting their paths in the world of combat sports.

Cost Factors: Understanding the Expenses

Running a small-scale combat sports promotion involves navigating a complex web of costs. To ensure financial sustainability, it’s crucial to understand these expenses and manage them effectively. Here are the key cost factors that these promotions grapple with:

  • Event Production: This covers a wide range of expenses, including venue rental, event staff, lighting, sound, equipment, and more. Ensuring that the event is professionally produced is crucial for the promotion’s reputation and for the safety and satisfaction of fighters and fans.
  • Fighter Compensation: As the stars of the show, fighters need to be compensated fairly for their participation. This can include a base pay for participating in the fight, a win bonus for victorious fighters, and sometimes a share of the ticket sales or Pay-Per-View revenue.
  • Marketing: Promotions need to invest in marketing to attract fans to their events. This can include social media advertising, posters, radio spots, press releases, and more. For digital events, promotions may also need to invest in SEO or digital advertising to attract online viewers.
  • Operational Costs: These are the day-to-day costs of running the organisation, such as salaries for full-time staff, office rent, utilities, and insurance.


Invicta Fighting Championships, a United States-based all-female MMA promotion, offers a compelling real-life example of effectively managing costs while maintaining high-quality events.

  • Event Production: One of the highest expenditures for any combat sports promotion is event production, encompassing aspects like venue rental, equipment, and staff. Invicta has been strategic in this aspect, often opting for smaller, more cost-effective venues over large, expensive locations. They’ve shown that for fans, the size of the venue is less important than the quality and excitement of the fights. By securing locations that align with their budget without compromising the viewer experience, Invicta has been able to manage event production costs successfully.
  • Fighter Compensation: Talent is the lifeblood of any combat sports promotion, and fair compensation is key to attracting and retaining this talent. While Invicta may not match the pay scales of larger promotions, they’ve ensured competitive compensation for their fighters. This balance has earned them a reputation as an excellent platform for female fighters to launch and build their careers, further contributing to the quality of their events and their appeal to fans.
  • Marketing: In the modern digital landscape, marketing can become a significant cost if not managed effectively. Invicta uses digital marketing strategies to their advantage, maximising their reach with minimal investment. They make extensive use of their social media channels and website to promote events, share fighter profiles, and engage with fans. This approach not only keeps their marketing costs down but also helps to build a strong online community around their brand.
  • Operational Costs: Day-to-day operational costs can quickly add up for any business. Invicta has managed to run a lean operation by keeping their permanent staff small and hiring additional staff on an event-by-event basis. This approach allows them to scale up their operations for events without incurring unnecessary costs during quieter periods.

Invicta’s approach to cost management demonstrates how strategic decisions and careful planning can help small-scale combat sports promotions maintain the quality of their events without overspending. They are a testament to how passion and dedication, when combined with a sound financial strategy, can overcome financial challenges. Their story serves as an inspiration and guide for other small-scale promotions navigating the financial complexities of the combat sports industry.

The Financial Balancing Act: Revenue vs. Costs

In the arena of combat sports promotions, the battle isn’t only about winning in the ring; it’s equally about achieving a balanced financial scorecard. Ensuring financial sustainability for a small-scale combat sports promotion often comes down to a delicate balancing act between revenue and costs.

The major sources of revenue, such as ticket sales, broadcasting rights, merchandise sales, and sponsorships, need to not only cover the substantial costs involved in event production, fighter compensation, marketing, and operations, but also generate enough profit for reinvestment and growth.

However, achieving this balance isn’t an easy feat. Small-scale promotions face stiff competition for sponsors and broadcasting rights, while ticket and merchandise sales can be unpredictable. On the flip side, costs are often fixed or may even increase over time. Thus, promotions must constantly innovate and explore new strategies to increase revenue and manage costs.


The success story of Japan-based RIZIN Fighting Federation offers valuable insights into maintaining this balance. Launched in 2015, RIZIN quickly became one of the most prominent combat sports promotions in Japan and internationally, despite a highly competitive market.

  • Revenue Generation: Since its launch in 2015, RIZIN has mastered the art of revenue diversification. Their events, featuring thrilling fights with popular fighters, have attracted a consistent fan base, ensuring steady ticket sales. In addition, the promotion has entered profitable broadcasting rights deals with international networks, extending their reach to a global audience. Further bolstering their income, RIZIN has also seen success in selling its branded merchandise to its international fan base.
  • Cost Management: Despite their rapid growth and high production values, RIZIN has skillfully managed to keep costs under control. The promotion undertakes strategic venue selection, ensuring the locations align with their budget without compromising on the audience experience. Further, they have adopted an efficient resource allocation strategy and sensible compensation plans for their fighters, ensuring the promotion’s financial sustainability.
  • Balancing the Scales: RIZIN’s remarkable success in maintaining a healthy balance between income and expenditure is rooted in their strategic financial management and deep understanding of their market. By managing to keep their expenses under control while maximising their revenue streams, RIZIN has not only ensured its financial sustainability but also paved the way for its continued growth.

The RIZIN case underlines the necessity of smart financial strategies for small-scale combat sports promotions. It stands as proof that with a strategic approach and sound financial management, these promotions can strike a balance between revenue and costs, ensuring their survival and growth in the dynamic and competitive world of combat sports.

Economic Impact on Local Communities

While small-scale combat sports promotions grapple within the ring and with their finances, they also make significant contributions to their local communities. These promotions can stimulate local economies in various ways, often creating ripple effects that extend beyond the confines of the ring.

  • Job Creation: Combat sports promotions directly create jobs, from event staff and trainers to marketing professionals and administration roles. They also indirectly support employment in local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and transport services, especially during events.
  • Tourism Attraction: High-profile fights and events can draw visitors from outside the area, boosting local tourism. Visitors attending the events often utilise local accommodation, dine at local restaurants, and may explore other tourist attractions in the area, pumping money into the local economy.
  • Driving Local Business: Promotions often partner with local businesses for goods and services, from printing services for marketing materials to equipment rentals for events. This can provide a significant boost to these businesses, especially in smaller communities.
  • Community Engagement: Promotions often engage with their communities, from hosting local charity events to offering free training sessions. This not only builds goodwill but can also have long-term socio-economic benefits.


Island Fights, a combat sports promotion based in Pensacola, Florida, serves as a compelling example of the positive economic and social impact that small-scale promotions can have on their local communities.

  • Job Creation and Local Business: From its inception, Island Fights has prioritised local involvement, creating numerous job opportunities directly and indirectly. For each event, the promotion employs local staff for various roles – event planning, security, medical services, and more. Additionally, Island Fights routinely partners with local businesses for their needs. Local printing shops, for instance, are utilised for marketing materials, while local food and beverage businesses cater their events. These collaborations have led to a surge in local business revenues and stimulated economic activity.
  • Tourism Attraction: Island Fights is more than just a local spectacle; it’s a tourism magnet. The promotion’s events have drawn visitors not just from across Florida, but from across the nation. This influx of visitors fuels local businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector. Hotels see increased bookings, restaurants enjoy more customers, and local attractions and businesses benefit from the added footfall.
  • Community Engagement: The impact of Island Fights extends beyond the economy; they’ve also made significant social contributions to the Pensacola community. They’re known for their frequent charity events and youth training sessions, nurturing a new generation of fighters and fostering a love for the sport. These initiatives have not only enriched the local community socially but also driven additional economic activity.

The impact of Island Fights illustrates the multifaceted role small-scale combat sports promotions play within their communities. They aren’t simply entertainment providers; they’re catalysts for economic growth, job creators, tourism boosters, and community developers.


The vibrant world of small-scale combat sports promotions is not merely a contest of strength and skill within the ring; it’s a testament to financial and technological resilience. Understanding the intricate financial dynamics of these promotions, and the invaluable role of platforms like Spartacus, gives us a whole new lens to appreciate the sport.

The introduction of Spartacus into this landscape has been a game-changer. With features allowing for the efficient broadcast of events, enhanced viewer engagement, and the opening up of new revenue streams, Spartacus has become a vital tool for small scale promotions. It’s not just transforming how these promotions operate, it’s enabling them to expand their reach and increase their financial sustainability in an incredibly competitive environment.

In supporting these promotions – by tuning into a Spartacus broadcast, buying a ticket, or purchasing merchandise – we are participating in the evolution of combat sports. We’re fostering a new generation of fighters, contributing to the vibrancy of local economies, and supporting the thrilling sport that continues to captivate us all.

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