"There is, in this world, no force such as the force of a man determined to rise." -- W.E.B. Dubois
Combat sports have been fighting a much more heated battle than their athletic competition counterparts for over 150 years. Boxing fought for acceptance throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. It is still attacked today from time to time when a finger needs to be pointed at someone, a common thread in American society.
The NFL seems to avoid such scrutiny, though its athletes still suffer concussions each time they take the field. It is a matter of when and not if. Still, even today it seems to be easiest to single out the combat sports. Maybe it is their visceral nature. Maybe it is the fact that they don't command billion dollar payrolls yet. Whatever the reason, the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts are now actively persuading the public day by day that they represent a top tier company and sport, respectively.
In the fall of 2011, the UFC announced a landmark deal in mixed martial arts history. They had signed a seven year deal with Fox to include programming on Fox, FX and Fuel TV. The deal was for hundreds of millions of dollars.
With the deal beginning on January 1, 2012 the UFC has announced an exhaustive schedule and an unprecedented amount of new programming. Bellator Fighting Championships, the recognized number two organization in the United States, announced a buyout by Viacom and a move to Spike TV in 2013. This also will only serve to further the furious rise of MMA.
The new year has already been huge for mixed martial arts with events popping up like weeds in a summer field and new ventures blossoming as they should. There are still many injuries in MMA, sure, but the talent pool is getting deeper and the holes in the boat are being patched with a calm assertiveness.
Already this year, Bellator has announced a spring schedule, HDNet has further committed to the sport of MMA while deciding to re-brand the network, the UFC had a huge event in Brazil that was watched by more than 20 million people in that country alone, and this Saturday marks the third UFC card of the year and fourth overall if you count Strikeforce. It is shaping up to be a big year.
Big Things to Come
2012 is the first year of the historic UFC deal with the Fox family of networks. It marks another year of UFC material on Spike TV and Bellator featured consistently on MTV2. HDNet will do their part to give exposure to many regional MMA organizations.
Counting UFC on Fox 2, which airs Saturday January 28, 2012 from the United Center in Chicago, the company will have 8 events in the next three months alone. UFC 145 will take place in Atlanta, Georgia and Jon Jones is rumored to be defending his light heavyweight title in the main event.
It seems that many past civilizations have predicted 2012 to be the end of days. But I say, no way! It ain't the end of the world, not by a long shot. This is just the beginning. As for the UFC and the sport of MMA, the future looks pretty darn good.