I still remember the first time I saw a UFC fight—at UFC 4. Watching Royce Gracie beat Dan Severn despite giving up 90+ pounds was an inspiration.
MMA has come a long way since then—from the brink of oblivion to the middle of the mainstream.
But with new attention have come new problems.
Most significantly, positive steroid tests have jeopardized MMA's mainstream success. Gracie himself came up dirty, as did Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk.
UFC's hardcore fans will never go away, but the suits at ESPN won't be quite so forgiving.
The failure to properly punish offenders hasn't helped. Gracie's win over Kazushi Sakuraba is still a win, and Sherk still has the Lightweight title.
If Dana White wants to be taken seriously, he should do the right thing and strip Sherk of his belt—and send a message that steroid, by anyone, use will not and cannot be tolerated.
The greatest sport in the world deserves all the positive attention it can get. Put the trash out back where it belongs.