Bellator Vs UFC: What’S the Difference? (10 Key Differences)

In the vast realm of mixed martial arts, two mighty giants reign supreme: the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA. These powerhouses of combat sport captivate audiences worldwide with their electrifying matchups and masterful fighters. While their shared goal is to provide exhilarating entertainment, a closer examination reveals ten key differences that define their distinctive identities.

Join us on a journey to unravel the intricate nuances of Bellator and the UFC, as we delve into the intricacies that shape the evolution of MMA.

Key Takeaways

  • UFC was founded in 1993, while Bellator was founded in 2008.
  • UFC has a total of 608 events, compared to Bellator's 289.
  • UFC attracts top fighters due to earnings potential and global exposure.
  • UFC ranks top 15 fighters per weight class, while Bellator ranks top 10.

History and Fighter Rosters

The histories and fighter rosters of Bellator and UFC differ significantly.

The UFC, founded in 1993, has a rich history that includes the development and evolution of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). It has held a staggering 608 events, making it the premier MMA organization globally. The UFC has attracted top fighters from around the world, offering them substantial earnings potential and global exposure. It has also created its own prestigious UFC Hall of Fame, recognizing the most accomplished fighters in the sport.

On the other hand, Bellator, founded in 2008, is a relatively new player in the MMA industry. While it may not have the same level of recognition as the UFC, it has still managed to attract notable fighters such as Michael Chandler, Patricio Freire, and Douglas Lima. These fighters have made a name for themselves in Bellator and have showcased their skills in thrilling matchups.

Despite the differences in their histories and fighter rosters, both organizations offer a platform for talented fighters to compete at the highest level of MMA.

Weight Class Divisions and Rules

Weight class divisions and rules play a crucial role in differentiating the MMA organizations Bellator and UFC. Here are five key differences in the weight class divisions and rules between the two promotions:

  • UFC has 12 divisions (8 men's, 4 women's), while Bellator has 9 divisions (7 men's, 2 women's).
  • UFC has additional divisions like men's flyweight, women's strawweight, and women's bantamweight, which Bellator hasn't created yet.
  • Both promotions adopt the Unified Rules of MMA, but there are some variations in fight duration between UFC and Bellator.
  • UFC uses five-round main events for all fights, whereas Bellator uses five-round fights for title fights and sometimes in tournaments.
  • UFC recently introduced five-round non-title fights in UFC 263, showing their willingness to adapt and evolve.
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These differences in weight class divisions and rules demonstrate the evolution of weight classes in MMA and highlight the unique approaches taken by Bellator and UFC.

Events/Competition Format

An integral aspect distinguishing Bellator and UFC is their events/competition format. Both promotions use regular matchmaking for weight division matchups, but there are some key differences.

UFC events typically consist of early prelims, prelims, and main card fights, while Bellator events usually have fewer fights and no early prelims.

One notable feature of Bellator is the incorporation of Grand Prix tournaments alongside regular fights. These tournaments feature 8-16 fighters and fights are held on the same night as regular fights.

While this format adds excitement and unpredictability, it also has its pros and cons. On one hand, it provides an opportunity for fighters to compete in a tournament-style format and potentially earn a title shot. On the other hand, it can be physically and mentally demanding for fighters to compete multiple times in one night, impacting their preparation and performance.

Difference in Rankings, Ownership, and Cage Used

One notable distinction between Bellator and UFC lies in their rankings, ownership, and the type of cage used.

  • UFC ranks top 15 fighters per weight class, while Bellator ranks top 10.
  • UFC started using a media-generated ranking system in 2013, while Bellator incorporated it in 2021.
  • Both promotions' rankings change due to matchmaking, but Bellator's Grand Prix tournaments also affect rankings.
  • UFC's ranking system is updated weekly, while Bellator's is updated after each event.
  • Bellator's ranking system is criticized for not being stricter on testing for performance-enhancing drugs.

In terms of ownership structure, UFC is 100% owned by Endeavor Group Holdings, while Bellator MMA is owned by Paramount Global since 2011. UFC has a larger ownership stake and financial backing compared to Bellator.

Lastly, the cage used in the two promotions is different. UFC uses an octagon, with two sizes available: 30 feet across and 6 feet high, and 25 feet across and 6 feet high. On the other hand, Bellator uses a circular cage measuring 36 feet across, which is around 35% bigger in space than the UFC's octagon.

Difference in Anti-doping

Moving on to the next key difference between Bellator and UFC, there is a notable distinction in their approach to anti-doping.

The UFC has implemented stricter testing protocols by partnering with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a third-party testing agency. USADA conducts random tests on UFC fighters, leading to an increased number of suspensions and title-stripping in the promotion. Although the exact costs of USADA testing are undisclosed, the UFC's commitment to stringent anti-doping measures has solidified its position as a leader in the MMA market.

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On the other hand, Bellator relies on the necessary testing procedures performed by the commission for each event. Due to potential financial constraints and the potential negative impact on their image, Bellator may choose not to invest in stricter testing protocols.

This difference in anti-doping approaches has a direct impact on fighter suspensions and the integrity of titles within each promotion.


Significantly, the disparity in size and numbers between Bellator and UFC is notable. This has several implications in terms of cost and market domination.

  • UFC has a larger ownership stake and financial backing, with a valuation of $15 billion, while Bellator's revenues are much lower and undisclosed, making their valuation significantly smaller. This financial disparity allows UFC to spend large amounts on content creation and promotion, which has helped them monopolize the MMA market.
  • UFC has a first-mover advantage and is more well-known to casual fans compared to Bellator, who is relatively unknown. This has resulted in UFC having more pay-per-view events with high buy rates.
  • UFC operates with a total of 608 events compared to Bellator's 289, showcasing their dominance in terms of the number of events hosted.
  • UFC has a vast roster of fighters, attracting top talent due to earnings potential and global exposure. They have signed proven elite fighters and young talents from other promotions, while some former Bellator champions have switched to the UFC.
  • Bellator, on the other hand, may face cost implications when it comes to stricter anti-doping testing. They rely on necessary testing procedures performed by the commission for each event, and choosing to pay for stricter testing may have financial constraints and potential negative impacts on their image.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Fighters Switch Between the UFC and Bellator Promotions?

Fighters can switch promotions through contract negotiation. While they can only fight for one promotion at a time, some have left the UFC to join Bellator due to contract disputes or wanting to continue fighting.

What Are the Differences Between the Ranking Systems of UFC and Bellator?

When comparing the ranking systems of UFC and Bellator, it is evident that there are several key differences. These differences include the number of ranked fighters, the frequency of updates, and the influence of tournaments on rankings.

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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the Octagon Versus the Circular Cage in Mma?

The advantages of using the octagon in MMA include a trademarked design, two size options, and a smaller space, allowing for faster-paced action. However, the circular cage used by Bellator offers more space for maneuvering and potentially more visually appealing fights.

How Do UFC and Bellator Handle Anti-Doping Procedures for Their Fighters?

When it comes to anti-doping procedures, UFC and Bellator differ in their approaches. UFC utilizes USADA as a third-party testing agency, conducting random tests that have resulted in more suspensions and title-stripping. Bellator relies on testing performed by the commission for each event. Additionally, fighter contracts dictate that they can only fight for one promotion at a time.

How Do the Financial Resources and Revenues of UFC and Bellator Compare?

In comparing the financial resources and revenues of UFC and Bellator, it is evident that UFC has a significant advantage. With a valuation of $15 billion, UFC's annual revenues have steadily grown, while Bellator's revenues are much lower and undisclosed, making their valuation significantly smaller.


In conclusion, delving into the nuances of Bellator and the UFC reveals a world of mixed martial arts that is rich in history, diverse in fighter rosters, and unique in its approach to weight class divisions, rules, events, rankings, ownership, cage design, anti-doping policies, and size.

These key differences between the two promotions not only shape their respective identities but also provide fans with a wide range of thrilling matchups and strategies to enjoy.

Whether you're a dedicated fan or a curious observer, exploring the divergences between Bellator and the UFC adds depth and excitement to the world of MMA.

Mike Williams
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