Dana White, TUF 9 and the UK Invasion

Mark HoppsCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2009

Since Michael Bisping won the ultimate fighter, the UFC in the UK has gone from a sport for hardcore fans to a sport discussed by its demographic on a daily basis.

It crops up in conversation down the pub just as boxing or football does and has started to creep into the mainstream media. In fact it has been embraced by major tabloids and the "lad mag" generation in a huge way.

So there is no wonder the spoils of the UK market look attractive to Zuffa; however, mistakes have been made.

The decision to move from Bravo TV to the pay per view Setanta sports was a bad one and alienated a lot of casual UFC fans. The very attitude of UK vs. USA does nothing but cause arguments among fans...but is that a bad thing?

You may hold Dana White in contempt, but he is a very smart man and misses very little. He is responsible, like it or not, for a lot of the mainstream success MMA has achieved. Maybe not all on his own, but he has played a big part.

However, I think he has slightly missed the point with regards to TUF 9. The UFC is signing increasingly more UK fighters as the soil in the UK appears to be more and more fruitful. Yet Dana does not like the idea of TUF9 UK vs. USA one bit.

National pride is something that fans on both sides of the pond can appreciate and this coming season of TUF will bring out the best (and worst) in MMA fans from both countries.

We will watch avidly to see our country win. We will argue on the internet when one of our fighters lose. We will make excuses for them, but more impotently we will all be talking about it!

With the standard of MMA rising in the UK, there are valid "future stars" of MMA emerging and the UFC is giving them a huge chance to get on the world stage. Let's face it, most TUF alumni end up with some form of contract.

There will be many more UK fighters in the UFC. There will be an invasion. There will be national pride at stake and although MMA is about who's best regardless of their country of origin, it will be more fun because of it.