Dana White is the president of the UFC. He’s the man responsible for promoting the company, so his comments aren’t always objective. He’s frequently honest, but he’s biased. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he was asked if the UFC could go mainstream and compete with the likes of football, baseball, and basketball. His response should not surprise you:
“It will become mainstream. Absolutely. Right now we’re the largest pay-per-view provider in the world. Our fights have gone head-to-head with the NBA playoffs and out-rated them in the demo (men 18-34). One of my big philosophies is that fighting is the sport that crosses all borders. I don’t care what color you are, what country you come from or what language you speak, fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. One thing I can’t prove, but I firmly believe is that two men were put on this earth – one threw a punch and a third guy came over and watched. And that happened before anybody ever threw or kicked a ball.”
Like I said, what would you expect his answer to be? The UFC has an enormous following and is immensely popular. They do well on pay-per-view (but fall behind boxing’s biggest fights), and they get pretty good ratings on Spike. That said, I have a differing view from Dana White for several reasons.
I won’t say that the UFC won’t go mainstream, I just don’t think it will. UFC is not something you can talk about on general sports talk radio. Outside of say Jim Rome, it’s not really covered on sports talk shows on TV. It does fall into the category of being a niche sport, even if it is much more popular than its fellow “niche” sports. But here’s what needs to happen for the UFC to go mainstream.
First, you need to handle guys like Rampage Jackson when they’re out of line. The mainstream folks won’t take you seriously when you turn your head to sexual harassment in the workplace. Next, you can’t deny credentials to reporters from mainstream outlets like ESPN and CBS Sports because you don’t like them. You’re missing out on reaching mainstream sports fans when you do that. Lastly, you need the people from the 18-34 men’s demographic to get into power at mainstream outlets. As long as you have people who aren’t fans of the sport controlling things, MMA won’t get mainstream exposure.Google+