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Fighting For Approval: UFC 100 Shows MMA Has Mainstream Appeal
Published July 14, 2009
|Some Feel Lesnar's (r) Post-Fight Antics
Hurt Mainstream Appeal Of MMA
THE NEXT BIG THING: ESPN’s J.A. Adande said having Lesnar as the new face of UFC is a "good thing" for the sport. Adande: "The premier teams in other sports, like the Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys -- people love them or hate them. A lot of people love to hate them, but the sport is always better off when they’re in contention because they drive ratings. I think you have this character now, this evil figure that people are going to relate to one way or the other, but they’re intrigued and the thing is people are recognizable now." Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "Here is a guy that was in (professional) wrestling. He does understand entertainment. You may not want that as part of your sport, but he knows that’s the way they’re going to get attention. ... That’s what’s going to rise this sport" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/13). In St. Paul, Bob Sansevere writes, “I’m a lot more interested in the UFC because Lesnar is such a colorful character” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/14). ESPN’s Colin Cowherd: "It’s leading our show. It helped" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 7/13). The Boston Globe's Ryan: "If suddenly an outsized personality with some legitimacy ... if he’s the guy that puts you over the top to start, hey, you worry about cleaning up the mess later.” But ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "They don’t want the whole ‘good guy, bad guy’ thing. So maybe that’s not central to it” ("PTI," ESPN, 7/13).
AS GOOD AS IT WILL GET? CBSSPORTS.com's Ray Ratto wrote under the header, "MMA Will Remain A Niche Sport, And The Niche Is Full." Ratto: "MMA has found its niche, and UFC 100 was the top end of that.” The event was as “big a card as could be constructed,” and UFC President Dana White had “months to make it right.” Ratto: "By most analyses by MMA fans, he did. For those who aren't MMA fans, it doesn’t matter." There is a “ceiling for every sport, and right now the only one that seems to be picking up steam in the U.S. is international pro soccer. ... This, we’d be willing to bet, is MMA’s ceiling” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/13).