Sports by the Numbers MMA

It may sound like it, but sorry all you James Bond fanatics, this is not inside scoop on the title of the next big Bond movie. Instead it is a statement born from a gut wrenching search into the current state of mixed martial arts, and its fabled quest for mainstream acceptance.


The above may seem odd, even completely and utterly ridiculous when the numbers obviously tell a different story. According to the preliminary viewership for Elite XC on CBS came in at 4.3 million, the event continually gained throughout the night, and when compared to regularly scheduled programming in the same timeslot, MMA blew the competition away. In people age 18 to 49 it was up 36%, and in men age 18 to 49 it was up an astounding 271%!


Hmmm, on second thought maybe the world in the title is a little misleading. It should probably read, The Powers that be: Scared that the World is not Ready. But that's too long, even with the colon.


After digesting MMA's inaugural effort on network TV, it seems rather obvious that the decision makers are shaking in their boots. With all the sketchy news coming from the event regarding controversial stoppages, the boot quaking seems obvious. One of the most egregious stories comes from Kaitlin Young, who lost to Gina Carano in an exciting fight. She purportedly stated that the commission did not want her to come out for the third round, despite the doctor saying she was okay. And then continuing with the news that she was kept from the press conference and after party with the only clear reason the mouse under her eye!


It makes one wonder also about the stoppage of James Thompson. Was it premature? Some say yes because the man who came in with a supposed glass jaw had been wobbled by a few big blows earlier in the night, but kept on. They believe he would have recovered and continued. It is hard to say, he did look loopy, but of course the stoppage came right after Thompson's ear was popped like a liquid filled Piñata.


Now it is easy to sit back and play Monday morning quarterback, and many are upset with Elite XC. But was it really their deal, or was it the State Athletic Commission and/or CBS applying pressure on the referees, urging them to be ready to stop the fights if they got too brutal? God forbid a few should become riled by a swollen cheek or a little blood.   


Sure this is a healthy dose of conjecture, but in the aftermath much of it seems to make sense. And this leads to only one conclusion. The powers that be aren't ready for the sport. They've dipped their toes in the water to gage the temperature, when in reality it is more prudent to either jump right in or stay out completely.


After the happenings on May 31, 2008 it seems we are not on the edge, ready for a full fledged leap into the deep end of MMA, despite the tremendous numbers. And it is too bad. At some point it has to be accepted that the sport is only going to gain in popularity.


Yes it is violent, but in nature, not in intent. Most fighters don't want to truly hurt their opponent, they want to win and in the process a little swelling, blood, and even the occasional bone break occurs. So what, the combatants understand the risks and are more than capable! MMA fans should not apologize. Football, rugby, or hockey fans certainly don't, despite the inherent violence of those sports. Why, because each is now accepted. They've become part of the culture and those who argue against them are met with nothing more than an, "Okay buddy, whatever you say."


The simple truth, MMA is here to stay. It is following in the footsteps of the aforementioned sports, and will continue to attract avid followers because it offers heart thumping action and mind twisting results. It makes us shake our heads and exclaim, "Wow!" Sure there will always be those who detest it, it isn't everybody's cup of tea, but nothing is liked by everyone, rumor has it some people don't even like American Idol!


If the powers that be at CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, the state athletic commissions, or wherever else can't recognize that even with a few ever present detractors, the time for mainstream MMA is here, then they'd better stay out of the water. MMA will do just fine without them.


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