We’ve heard Dana White say that he wants the UFC to be a global brand. He believes it can be the third biggest sport in America behind football and baseball and wants it to be the biggest international sport behind soccer. How far has the UFC come since UFC 1?
The obvious answer is a long, long way. It went from what was a no rules fight that politicians associated with human cockfighting to a sanctioned, legal sport (except in NY, but that’s for another time) and is viewed by millions of fans.
It was huge for the UFC to sign a major network deal. Fox has been known to take risks and this was a big one, but one that I believe will pay off. Remember how big the Stephan Bonnar-Forrest Griffin fight was for the UFC. Millions of people watched that fight and it basically saved the company. It allowed TUF to get a second season on Spike and sent the UFC to a new level.
Now obviously Spike has a bit of a grudge and is airing previous TUF episodes at the same time as new ones, but Spike was huge for the UFC and vice versa. Spike was the company that took a risk and it not only helped their network it also helped the UFC. If the show would’ve flopped it would’ve hurt the UFC more, but both companies would have been in trouble after that.
Currently we’re at an age where the UFC is rising even more. Wrestlers finally have a place to go after college, soccer players from foreign countries are taking up MMA and we’re seeing fighters out of countries we’ve never seen before make it to the UFC. Do I think mixed martial arts will ever be as big as soccer? No, it’s obvious that it won’t be, but we need to remember present MMA has been around for only about 20 years and it’s huge. I have no doubt it can become the third biggest sport in America.