Social media MMA: Makhachev wins with most Instagram followers winning popularity contest over Chimaev and even GSP

Islam Makhachev is a very well-liked athlete in the UFC but doesn’t necessarily have the biggest personality.

He has established himself with a win over the yjrn UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira and is an unstoppable force in the lightweight division.

Many argue that the biggest stars to come out of the UFC in 2022 are Khamzat Chimaev and Paddy Pimblett but both Chimaev and Pimblett had huge falling outs with their fanbases.

Chimaev was scolded for his huge weight miss and the nonchalant attitude afterwards complete with a vulgar gesture during weigh ins.

Pimblett showed that fame has changed him and tried to ingratiate himself to boss Dana White by accusing MMA Hour’s host of exploiting athletes for financial gains.

Makhachev takes pleasure in the recognition and attention that comes with being close to Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, it is important to recognize that Makhachev has firmly established his own legacy as well. The Dagestani has a single loss in his mixed martial arts career and some argue even that was a result of early stoppage.

mma_gains estimated Makhachev won as many as 800,000 fans with his win over Charles Oliveira
mma_gains estimated Makhachev won as many as 800,000 fans with his win over Charles Oliveira

On his Instagram, he has an astounding 5.3 million followers. As of this writing, Makhachev is the UFC athlete with the most Instagram followers (excluding Conor McGregor). Surprisingly, he has more followers than Dustin Poirier, Georges St-Pierre, and Khamzat Chimaev.

Chimaev ended the year with 4.6M followers. He started with 3M. Chimaev gained 167,000 followers in his last victory over Kevin Holland. Meanwhile Makhachev gained staggering 817k with a win over Oliveira.

Who has the most followers on Instagram in the UFC?

Ngannou 4.032M (1 yr ago 3.297M)
Pereira 1.033M
Leon Edwards 794.6K
Makhachev 5.333M
Volkanovski 956.4K (1 yr ago 540.5K)
Sterling 532.7K (1 yr ago 350.1K)
Figueiredo 414.1K
Moreno 1.732M (1 yr ago 1.188M)

Nunes 1.696M (1 yr ago 1.649M)
Shevchenko 2.667M (1 yr ago 2.438M)
Weili Zhang 759.4K


Conor McGregor has an astounding 46.1 million Instagram followers as of this writing. Meanwhile, Khabib Nurmagomedov has 34.1 million followers on Instagram. It’s easy to assume that no UFC athlete even comes close to McGregor and Nurmagomedov’s level of popularity.

With more than 7.1 million followers, former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is now at the top of the list. Francis Ngannou is now ranked second among the list UFC champions with most Instagram followers. He has 4 million Instagram followers. Makhachev and Ngannou are followed by Brandon Moreno and Alex Pereira.

Although the number of fans does not directly correlate with an athlete’s skill inside the Octagon, it does speak volumes about their popularity. also did an interesting analysis of UFC athlete’s twitters and outlined the top 5 athletes with most fake followers.

Here’s the complete list:

Conor McGregor: 9,600,000 followers, 4,081,338 fake (42.3%)
Anderson Silva: 7,500,000 followers, 2,849,671 fake (38%)
Jon Jones: 2,700,000 followers, 1,092,496 fake (40.3%)
Georges St-Pierre: 2,100,000 followers, 871,548 fake (41.5%)
Nate Diaz: 2,100,000, 820,040 fake (38.3%)
Khabib Nurmagomedov: 2,100,000, 756,021 fake (36.6%)
Daniel Cormier: 1,400,000 followers, 517,512 fake (37%)
Israel Adesanya: 1,400,000 followers, 489,443 fake (34.4%)
Dustin Poirier: 985,000, 362,448 fake (36.8%)
Cody Garbrandt: 361,000, 176,366 fake (48.8%)