When Will the Whole of Western Society Accept MMA?
Make no mistake about it: MMA is a popular sport, and it might be the most popular combat sport in existence right now, but it is not yet accepted by western society. The reality is that it will take a long time before western society accepts MMA as a true sport rather than just "fighting," but even though it still has a long way to go, it is at a point that many would have seen as a ridiculous point to fathom had it been mentioned when it first started.
Technically, MMA actually started with Shooto long before the first UFC event took place, but even when MMA came to the United States as part of the UFC, few could have seen the sport as something that would eventually reach a level of popularity that justified any sort of live televised broadcasting.
When it finally reached a successful deal with FOX last year, the popular train of thought was that the FOX deal would be the move that finally got MMA over the hump and into the mainstream in 2012. And while the two FX cards more than delivered, many were not able to catch the first card on Fuel TV. Not only were fans not able to catch the first card on Fuel TV due to not having either Fuel TV or FOX Deportes, but you also have to into account the UFC on FOX 2 card.
Officially, the UFC on Fox 2 event was the first full card of the actual deal, but despite drawing big numbers in the ratings department, the fight card was criticized by some for the way in which the three-fight main card fights went.
To put it simply, many were able to watch the card from the first fight of the night until the main event, and many felt that the card was over once the Fox-only main card went down—probably due to the fact that every one of that event's main-carders, except Bisping, were ground fighters by trade. But let's not forget that this was the first full card of the Fox deal, so let's give them a little bit of slack in that respect because they are still trying to get it right, to their credit.
Will western society ever truly accept MMA?
Getting back to the topic at hand, though, the events of the UFC on Fox 2 card didn't aid the MMA charge into western society, nor did the fact of most cable providers not carrying Fuel TV. So in that respect, the sport is obviously not where it wants itself to be.
In addition, The Ultimate Fighter just introduced its "Live" format to fans on FX—and the format is seeing a mix in reactions in its own right, while TUF: Brazil is making itself known for the first time ever, and the MTV/MTV2 version of MMA shows—i.e., Bully Beatdown and Caged—have garnered mixed reactions.
While people enjoy Bully Beatdown because it's fun to watch MMA fighters pound the daylights out of bullies, they catch a rough rep because none of it feels legitimately real to some fans. And Caged had a good idea in showcasing amateur MMA fighters and their back stories, but as many can expect from a reality show on MTV, the show appealed more to people who watch MTV's brand of reality programming than it did to people who care about the sport of MMA.
The spread of MMA is out of this question, as it has clearly made an impact all over the world, to the point where many countries in the western world have regulated the sport in one form or another, and that's not including the numerous events the UFC has put on.
Still, it doesn't appear as though MMA has truly been accepted by western society, which begs the question of what will need to happen for MMA to become accepted? Regardless of what needs to happen or how long it takes, fans can bet that MMA will eventually find its place in western society.
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