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Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Anderson Silva make ESPN’s list of world’s most famous athletes

The UFC’s two biggest stars cracked the top 25 of ESPN’s World Fame 100 rankings, while the legendary Anderson Silva made the top 50.

UFC 205: Press Conference Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The folks at ESPN have released their World Fame 100 rankings, which names the most famous athletes on the planet. If you’re curious as to what criteria was used to devise such a list, here’s a quick summary:

“The data for each athlete in the pool was then fed into a formula created by ESPN director of sports analytics Ben Alamar that weighs athletes' endorsements, their following on the social media Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and Google search popularity, producing a comparative ranking system. The analysis includes five categories: endorsement money, Twitter followers, Instagram followers, Facebook followers and Google Trends score. For special situations (esports and China) we used two additional categories: other social media -- for when the athlete was more relevant on a platform outside the Big Three (Twitch, for example, although no gamers made the top 100) -- and, in China's case, Baidu search score, because Google is blocked there.”

Portuguese international and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is unsurprisingly #1, with LeBron James of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers as runner-up, and Ronaldo’s La Liga rival Lionel Messi coming in at #3. Golfing great Tiger Woods rounds out the top 10, which is essentially the only positive thing Tiger has managed over the last 24 hours.

The three UFC fighters who are ranked are Ronda Rousey at #16, Conor McGregor at #25, and Anderson Silva at #39. Here’s a comparison list for their endorsement earnings as well as social media followings:


Ronda Rousey: $8 million
Anderson Silva: $8 million
Conor McGregor: $4 million

Instagram followers

Conor McGregor: 11.1 million
Ronda Rousey: 9.5 million
Anderson Silva: 2.6 million

Twitter followers

Anderson Silva: 7.9 million
Conor McGregor: 3.6 million
Ronda Rousey: 3.4 million

Facebook followers

Ronda Rousey: 11.3 million
Anderson Silva: 5.9 million
Conor McGregor: 5.2 million

Last year’s ranking

Ronda Rousey: 23
Conor McGregor: 37
Anderson Silva: Unranked

There is one important difference with this year’s rankings compared to last, and that’s the removal of salaries/earnings, which fluctuate from sport to sport. Major League Baseball, for instance, does not have a salary cap, whereas the National Football League most definitely does. So if you’re looking for something to explain why Silva went from unranked to 39th, it’s almost surely that.

For the record, the two boxers on the list are Manny Pacquiao (#59) and Canelo Alvarez (#89). Floyd Mayweather being “retired” is what made him ineligible to be ranked.

You can read the full list here.

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