Many folks recently have been excited about the recent progress mixed martial arts has made in gaining widescale acceptance, a long way from the dark days when it was being outlawed and famous references to “human cockfighting” were made by politicians. It can’t be said that it hasn’t made great progress. But in reality, MMA is nowhere near mainstream acceptance.
Below are signs that MMA is mainstream. Until a majority of these happen, we’re not there yet. Mixed martial arts can finally be said to be mainstream when:
1. ESPN covers MMA (not an original observation, but can’t be left off the list)
2. An MMA star hosts Saturday Night Live
3. An MMA star receives a multimillion dollar sponsorship from Nike
4. There are no more counties or areas banning MMA
5. A major MMA promotion puts small toys based on their fighters in McDonalds Happy Meals
6. An MMA star is seen on the arm of a hollywood actress at the Oscars awards ceremony
7. Sports Illustrated names an MMA fighter their “Sportsman of the Year”
8. An MMA star appears on a Wheaties box
9. An MMA star appears on a UFC Cereal box (corn and wheat sugared octagons, no less)
10. Mixed martial arts is a standard offering in high school sports
11. After an IFL team wins the championship, they receive a call from the United States president
If anyone’s interested, the gang over at FightOpinion.com invited me on their radio show this week, and we talked about this list there. You can check out Fight Opinion Radio in iTunes to listen, or just download it from directly from their site.
One of the most important of the above list is the first, regarding ESPN, as it could very well determine the future of the sport. What will it do (positive and negative) to the sport if ESPN decides they only will cover the results and action of one organization? What if it’s presented in the same light as extreme sports like BMX and skateboarding? I’m not sure how we understand how important their coverage will prove to be!