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UFC takes aim at the NFL

When I periodically express disdain for sports other than football, I’m not kidding about it.

I followed baseball religiously when I was a kid, listening to Bob Prince calling games via transistor radio onto which my grandpa periodically sprayed tobacco juice while aiming for the makeshift spittoon that was in reality an upright Tupperware container with a paper towel saturated by the stuff that didn’t otherwise didn’t land on the ground.  Or my shoes.

After Sid Bream time-traveled from second base on a routine single to cap Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, I knew in my heart that the Pirates wouldn’t be worth a damn again in my lifetime.

So far, I’m right.

I’ve never really liked basketball, either.  Playing it can be fun, as long as no one all that, you know, good shows up at the gym.  My dad told me when I was five that watching more than the last four minutes of a basketball game is a complete waste of time, and it’s the only thing he ever told me with which I agreed unequivocally at the time he said it.

Hockey, I like.  But only in the playoffs, and only if the Penguins are still alive.

Then there are the other supposedly “major” sports.  Soccer, boxing, and that relatively new full-contact sport which best can be described as pro wrestling that isn’t fake.

I watched it once.  And one phrase kept coming to mind.

“Dude, get a room.”

But, hey, plenty of people watch it, and plenty of people love it.  They are the modern day gladiators, with a system for victory far less subtle than the obtuse points system characterizing a “sweet science” that never was a science, and that no longer is particularly sweet.

Still, we can’t imagine UFC ever attracting the kind of widespread, mainstream, all-encompassing popularity and attention the NFL enjoys. 

That isn’t stopping the guy who runs the sport from making like Vince McMahon.

“When you look at the world of
sports right now, nothing in this country is bigger than the NFL,”
UFC president Dana White said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “There was always that big argument whether baseball was
bigger than football or whatever.  There’s no argument. The NFL is huge. 
I don’t [care] if you didn’t watch one football game all season,
everybody watches the Super Bowl.

“But I know for a fact — I don’t think – that we’re going to be the biggest sport in the world.”

Really?  Bigger than football in the “U.S. and A.“?  Bigger than futbol in the rest of the world?

White simply thinks that the NFL will never establish itself in other countries, and that UFC already has.

The NFL has been spending billions
of dollars trying to break into other countries, and it’s not
happening,” White said.  “You know why?  Because nobody [cares] about football in other
countries.  They didn’t grow up playing it, they don’t understand the
rules, and they’re not invested in the teams.

Though White claims he’s not trying to come off as a promoter (fail) or a lunatic (semi-fail), few if any businesses reach their full potential with a captain who dabbles in such overt promotion and/or semi-lunacy.  The connection between the leader’s oversized personality and the ultimate ceiling on the sport’s growth might not be obvious or linear; but the reality is that a guy who would be so foolish as to publicly challenge Goliath to a slingshot-free cage match will, eventually, say, do, or fail to do something that will necessarily put a finite limit on the success of the endeavor.

Think of it this way — pro football became America’s true pastime without loudmouthed personalities challenging baseball to a duel or proclaiming that the sport will take over the known universe.  And the same wisdom reflected by that deliberate, discreet approach helped gradually position the NFL to become what it is today.

So, basically, the chances of UFC trumping the NFL in my lifetime are slightly less than the chances of yours truly riding the Buccos’ bandwagon again in anything other than an urn.
  

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71 Responses to “UFC takes aim at the NFL”
  1. TMI says: Jul 10, 2009 9:03 PM

    He might be right.
    I have loved football above & beyond any other sport since i was 9.
    But I can’t get my kids (Boy/Girl, 9/10) to watch it for anything.
    They will, however, sit sown & watch UFC re-runs every Sunday night. And they watch it intently.
    They were especially interested in the chicks fighting on Showtime a few weeks ago. There is just something about fighting. Everyone can do it.

  2. Paul Hanna says: Jul 10, 2009 9:04 PM

    Excellent article, Mike.

  3. Phoenix138 says: Jul 10, 2009 9:04 PM

    I’m sure Dana appreciates the free advertising you’re giving him, Mike.

  4. BearsMeng says: Jul 10, 2009 9:08 PM

    The UFC has grown exponentially the last five years, but White is just trying to promote the fight this weekend

  5. onethreeone says: Jul 10, 2009 9:09 PM

    You have demonstrated a large ignorance of global MMA in the story above. The NFL is huge in the US, and it will be for a very long time (barring strikes / work stopppages in 2011…)
    MMA is huge in many countries, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, the UK, and the good ole US of A.
    MMA’s popularity has been exploding over the last 5 years, mainly because of the UFC. There is a science and excitement that draws many different fan groups in. Of course the knockout-seeking testerone-laden guys are into it, but “more sophisticated” strategy-lovers are as well. Many women even love the sport, especially when the rules are explained to them.
    There is a very good chance that with its global markets, the UFC could be bigger on a world-wide scale than the NFL in the next decade. Obvioulsy that won’t happen in the US market, unless the NFL screws it up baseball-style.

  6. Choirdrunk says: Jul 10, 2009 9:21 PM

    So your argument boils down to “Football displaced baseball by being polite. Therefore, the only way to displace the nation’s current favorite sport is to be polite.”
    Beyond the blindingly obvious logical flaw in your argument (past success is not determinative of future success because, you know, variables change) there is so much you failed to even consider.
    The level of social decorum necessary to be “mainstream” has shifted dramatically in the past 50 years. No longer do chart topping songs hint at sexual impropriety, they revel in it. No longer are movies and TV shows coy about crude behavior. And no longer do Americans require the soft soothing tones of a grandfather-like figure to determine that a story is genuine. Get with the times champ.
    The idea of a sport’s president being a cheerleader for that sport is one of the most tame things a person can do. If White said something like “yea, our sport is OK. But football, man, that’s much better” his bosses would fire his butt in three seconds flat. As they should.
    Also, if the first thing you think of when you see a fight is gay sex, then I don’t think the issue lies with the fight. I’m a huge NFL fan. But the UFC rocks and many fo the arguments White makes make sense.

  7. HelmetKing says: Jul 10, 2009 9:26 PM

    True fighting is two men standing upright exchanging fists to the face and body (above the belt). I really don’t understand MMA, they say it’s the combination of all fighting disciplines but I don’t really see the need for it. It’d be like having a sport that combines Football, baseball, hockey, soccer, and basketball all into one competition.
    If you’re a wrestler then wrestle, if you can punch then get your ass in a boxing gym, and if your into any of that brazilian ju jitsu shit then just go hang out in a men’s bathroom at a park around midnight. Plenty of guys will show up willing to play your “sport”.
    I would give a pound of flesh for it to be football season right now.

  8. Azinine says: Jul 10, 2009 9:26 PM

    I was about to pontificate but the guys above me said it all. Oh well, maybe next time…

  9. EdReed4prez says: Jul 10, 2009 9:33 PM

    If the NFL keeps on it’s trend toward flag football I agree with Dana white whole heartedly. Remember the days of dirty uniforms? Go back to grass and go back to hitting the qb. And for gods sake will one of chad johnsons teammates duct tape his mouth.

  10. NittAndy says: Jul 10, 2009 9:37 PM

    Florio, haven’t we warned you about sucking down a 40oz Colt45 before writing an article?

  11. Smush Rodrigez says: Jul 10, 2009 9:39 PM

    And black man will never be president.
    Worldwide the UFC can be more popular than football. Look at boxing before they ruined it. Ali was more popular outside the IS than any football player ever was/is/or ever will be.
    Never say never. One question, what constitutes the popularity? Ratings? Money?

  12. iamdq says: Jul 10, 2009 9:41 PM

    the thing is the nfl is talking lock out and if i remember correctly when baseball went into a lockout football became the big dog and never looked back. Lesnar and the ufc are coming

  13. onethreeone says: Jul 10, 2009 9:42 PM

    @HelmetKing
    If you’re a wrestler, you have a severe weakness in the standup game. If you’re a boxer, you have a sever weakness in the ground game. If you’re trained in MMA, you can kick the crap out of any single-discipline fighter by using strategy to expose and take advantage of their weaknesses.
    You probably sound a lot like the football world back before the vertical pass. “If teams don’t want to man up and run the damn football, they should take that shit elsewhere.”

  14. Stuart Scotts left eye says: Jul 10, 2009 9:43 PM

    @helmetking,
    In a street fight, are there rules? Do they say only strike with fists and keep it clean? no. MMA has become the tree of fighting styles. They get the worlds greatest fighters and put them into the ring with limited rules and see who wins.
    Movies like The Quest and others have glorified underground fighting leagues and people LOVE those movies. What this basically is is a pro fighting league. Boxers are welcome, but they get their asses handed to them in MMA. This is why Merriweather turned down a fight with Sherk.

  15. ScottF says: Jul 10, 2009 9:49 PM

    Dana White is a blowhard. He makes TO and Ochocinco look humble. So it’s not shocking he’d say something like that.
    The biggest UFC card to date got an estimated 1.1 million PPV orders. That’s estimated because White won’t release the actual numbers. De la Hoya – Pacquiao did 1.2 million PPV buys.
    Even if every household that ordered the PPVs contained 10 people watching the fights, the biggest UFC card would have fewer viewers than an average NFL game which draws roughly 16 million.
    If there were 20 people in every household for the biggest UFC PPV, it would be comparable to the following 2008 NFL games: Cowboys-Steelers (25.7 m), Patriots-Jets (25.2 m), Cowboys-Giants (23 m).
    And, of course, that doesn’t even include playoffs or Super Bowl viewing.
    As for White’s xenophobic ignorance of soccer’s popularity around the world, ESPN got roughly 1.4 million viewers for the UEFA Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United. Yes, it wasn’t a PPV. But then again, the soccer match was played on a Wednesday afternoon instead of a Saturday night.
    So, instead of aiming for the NFL, Dana White needs to make his sport more popular than soccer is in the USA.

  16. dlmcc0909 says: Jul 10, 2009 9:56 PM

    What is wrong with some of you people? I admit I have started to take a little bit of an interest in the UFC lately, but come on! The NFL is king in this country and nothing is even close. The money the sport generates is insane. The UFC could never generate the sponsorship the NFL gets. were also living in too PC of a country these days and alot of people will not be able to handle the violence of it.
    As far as the rest of the world goes….futbol(soccer) will never be challeneged. Those fans literally live and die for the sport. if the NFL cant make it work in Europe nothing else will. Lets be realistic. Its nice Dana White has high hopes and dreams but thats all it is, a dream.

  17. Fridley says: Jul 10, 2009 10:14 PM

    HelmetKing…
    …that has to be the dumbest thing I’ve read on all of PFT — I havn’t read anything response-worthy enough to create a username, but this is just ridiculous…
    Firstly, MMA is NOTHING like combining football, baseball, basketball, etc…its different forms of one thing — fighting (wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, BJJ, judo, muay thai, etc). If anything, its closer to combining different styles of football (passing, running, power, slashing, speed, etc)
    Secondly, if you think the only real fighting is above the belt fists to the head or body, then just watch boxing…but dont talk out of your ass about the most extreme 1-on-1 sport on the planet
    Thirdly, I lmao that you’re gonna talk down about BJJ and compare it to public gay sex…you are obviously a pathetic fool that has probably never even seen it — you’re redneck ass says “that sounds foreign, therefor its gay”

  18. austin says: Jul 10, 2009 10:16 PM

    I’m a huge fan of the site, but I think you’ve missed the point here.
    Here’s my take on your argument-Dana White exaggerates and is an egomaniac (true). Therefore they will not be successful (in the words of Dwight Schrute -False).
    While Whites argument is that MMA is hugely popular across the world and the NFL has been extremely unsuccessful in gain worldwide popularity (True).
    Here’s the problem- You’ve failed to realize that the NFL is buttressed by egomaniac personalities like TO and OchoCinco that happen to fill your site. USA gravitates towards over the top, opinionated personalities like Dana White, who often does appear to be an idiot. But if you compared the growth of the UFC in the last five years with any other major sport in America, Dana seems pretty wise.

  19. Raider Pride says: Jul 10, 2009 10:24 PM

    Both the NFL and UFC are entertaining… A hell of alot better than many sports….
    Why Not Merge The Two Sports… Sort Of….
    Here is the plan…. Each NFL Team gets an extra roster spot to add one fighter to their roster. He will fly in on game day and stand on the side lines until/if he is needed.
    This would solve the crappy overtime system where the team that wins the toss usually wins the game in over time.
    If the 4th quarter ends with a tie… You simply roll out the cage to center field… and each teams special team designated fighter enters the cage to decide who wins.
    The fans would love it.

  20. Sun Wukong says: Jul 10, 2009 10:26 PM

    1. Dana White is a notorious loudmouth that says things so people will pay attention to him and his company. He’s really no better than a carnie or old school wrestling promoter, though he pretends to be.
    2. This is a stupid debate. UFC is based around single monthly PPV events (I don’t count The Ultimate Fighter. It’s ratings are way off their one time peak, and in no way competitive with those of most pro-sports. It has its place, but it isn’t the breadwinner for the organization) and, as such, is in no way in direct competition with ANY sport outside of Boxing (and pro-wrestling, if you want to count that).
    3. Popularity….The worldwide popularity of MMA is being overstated by some. It peaked in Japan several years ago and ever since PRIDE folded, it hasn’t been nearly as popular as it once was. It should also be noted that there is no way MMA is going to sustain this rapid growth for much longer. It’s been in an expansion phase for the last few years no question (and look how rapid expansion turned out for Hockey and NASCAR. One is a joke and the other has seen it’s ratings and attendance plummet over the last two years) but at a certain point saturation will be reached. It’s been cresting on the fact that it’s (relatively) new and interesting, but it will level off at some point. The fact that UFC seems to have a ceiling of 1.5 million buys for its top tier PPV events (and over the course of a year averages only about 600-750k in buys per event) is something that shouldn’t be ignored.
    4. Boxing is probably the best analogy. UFC (not MMA. Most non-UFC MMA promotions are struggling either financially or in terms of exposure and will likely be out of business within a few years) does stand to become the modern equivalent of what boxing was forty years ago, and that’s fine. Lord knows boxing has dug its own grave. But I still fail to see how to this has anything do with the NFL.
    5. Dana White is nuts if he thinks MMA/UFC will EVER be a pimple on the ass of soccer worldwide.

  21. Wick says: Jul 10, 2009 10:31 PM

    I got NO problems with what Dana White stated. White flatly conceded the NFL is the unquestioned king in this country. White further noted reasons the NFL is not king outside the realm, and the reasons he cited were right on target.
    And as for GLOBAL appeal, the UFC rocks. Not hard to grasp what’s going down inside the Octagon on a superficial level anyway. Every dude growing up (and grown up) needs or chooses to throw some hands, feet, elbows, knees and foreheads at least a few times in their life. Though the techniques are world class, the spectator has no trouble grasping what the ultimate desired outcome is.
    Finally ……….NO QUESTION: baseball flat blows. Watching a nine inning game is Chinese water torture-esque ….. hour after hour of that bucolic pastoral bullshit is unwatchable. It’s for very old people – the kind of person who gazed at his radio listening to Al Jolson sing “Mammy” and raved about it to his friends. What qualified as epic then, is abysmal now. Anyone under 85 years old who digs baseball is basically some loser like that Bartman clown at Wrigley.

  22. Sun Wukong says: Jul 10, 2009 10:32 PM

    the thing is the nfl is talking lock out and if i remember correctly when baseball went into a lockout football became the big dog and never looked back. Lesnar and the ufc are coming
    —————-
    1. Football was well on the way to becoming the big American sport by the time the baseball strike happened.
    2. The structure of UFC pretty much means it will never, EVER, be in competition with any season based, multi-team sports. This argument is dumb, because they’re two completely different things with completely different structures and business models. A PPV based company that is geared around one big show a month is no threat to the success of NFL, MLB, NBA, or any other such organizations. It’s another thing entirely.

  23. JimmyLions says: Jul 10, 2009 10:34 PM

    Who cares if the NFL is huge worldwide? Does it bother me that people in Europe don’t know the Lions went 0-16? Nope! Not one bit!

  24. ookie says: Jul 10, 2009 10:34 PM

    What’s the saying…if you put the sports on a corner (doesn’t matter which one) and put two guys fighting on the other…most people will watch the guys fighting.

  25. Jcovell says: Jul 10, 2009 10:42 PM

    My wife will NEVER watch the UFC. EVER. Nor will anyone else’s. She will go to a MLB game, but not watch on TV. She will only watch the NFL. That is why the UFC will never go main steam.

  26. CincyJungle says: Jul 10, 2009 10:54 PM

    I love watching MMA, it is a great time filler, but the NFL is unsurpassable in the USA as the ultimate sport. I can’t imagine coming into work and filling out an MMA fight sheet for the company pool or joining the MMA fantasy league and incessantly discussing the MMA like the NFL receives attention. The MMA isn’t going to have dedicated sports writers on every major paper. The NFL could fall from grace if they have a work stoppage and they lose the salary cap and become like baseball where only the top markets can really be expected to compete at the highest level year after year.
    I wouldn’t even agree that MMA are the ultimate modern day gladiators. The violence in MMA is up close and personal, but doesn’t have uniforms. The NFL has more violent collisions and more intense injuries. I’m not saying MMA needs to be more violent, they don’t, it’s just simply physics. NFL involves the biggest, strongest, fastest men on the planet hitting with the force of their entire bodies engaged at full capacity. The MMA fighters use massive amounts of force, it just isn’t the same, but it is more personal.
    I salute MMA fighting, they have filled in the void that boxing created by becoming largely irrelevant. They have challenged the dummy body builder acts known as Pro Wrestling, so I don’t have to see that junk on T.V. as much when flipping channels. They have the best kind of drama, real action, which is what also makes the NFL so successful. They are real athletes engaged in a highly disciplined, highly skillful sport. I just don’t see them over taking the NFL in the USA and couldn’t care less about outside the USA. Heck, I hate the idea of my local NFL team having to play a game outside of the USA.

  27. treetop203 says: Jul 10, 2009 10:56 PM

    Why are a 9 and a 10 year old watching UFC?

  28. Heinekenfun says: Jul 10, 2009 11:03 PM

    Hey Florio,
    you take a very short-sighted approach on this one. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the US and in the world. So maybe it’s no ‘threat’ in the US anytime soon, of becoming the #1 sport.., and it probably won’t. It is growing at a massive rate worldwide.
    It’s an easily accessible sport to train and practice in, as you don’t need to spend big money for equipment or playing time. Anyone with interest and motivation and study, learn and practice the different aspects of mixed marital arts. There’s no boundaries to who can participate, which makes it a major draw with the young ones. Plus, from a fan perspective.., its all the action and aggressive combat that you can wish for, and the fights don’t take all day to enjoy. so if one fight isn’t that great.., it can be easily followed by a more explosive one. And in this sport, the bigger, stronger guy doesn’t equal victory. Its a very technical and precise game of calculated violence. Something that can and does win over many NFL fans, including myself
    Something to consider about MMA growth against the NFL. The fans are currently getting pushed further and further away from this #1 game. I spend nearly $2k for my season tickets for 10 games, including two throwaway pre-season games that don’t mean shit. A lot of people can’t afford that, and I sit in the uppers, in one of the more affordable stadiums in the league. Sure, the games are aired on TV for free, except key games at the end of the season, where you have to pay more for a sports tier carrying NFL Network. Fans get tired of shelling out more and more cash just to follow the teams, Fans get tired of hearing about multi-million dollar athletes complaining of being disrespected b/c they’re not paid enough, fans get tired of players F’ing up w/ various arrests or bad conduct, fans get tired of hearing about labor unrest and fans get tired of the reality of an impending strike.
    So if the NFL starts to lose its grip on the #1 status sport.., it’s going to be because of their own doing. And if its the up and coming MMA that topples the NFL as the #1 sport.., its probably because they know that the key for success is fan accessibility. UFC events are already top sellers on PPV which is only $45. It’s also presenting weekly programming and available near daily for free on cable. It’s not there…, but they’re playing it right to become THE mainstream sport here and around the world.
    Maybe that’s something Roger Goodell can think about.

  29. osujew says: Jul 10, 2009 11:13 PM

    If you have followed the UFC — dana has said this since day 1. he isnt just trying to pimp ufc 100. also – he has very valid points when debating the sports’ following in other countries. Everyone knows (including Dana) that it will never mess with Football in America…but other than that, it probably will. Why do you think Fertitta left station casinos to promote the INTERNATIONAL business?
    I’m as big of NFL fan as their is, but that being said, the UFC is the next major thing and anyone that doesn’t believe that can just sit back and watch it happen.

  30. doe22us says: Jul 10, 2009 11:28 PM

    Excellent Points Scott F

  31. Dr. Hannibal Lector says: Jul 10, 2009 11:30 PM

    That may be the best thing you’ve ever written.
    I don’t get UFC. It has a shock value at first, but if you really watch it, it’s the same crap over and over. The highlights tell you otherwise but the highlights are the exception, not the norm.
    Ok… they come out, bounce around, slap box a little.
    Then one guy kicks another guy in the leg. It’s obligatory.
    Then they slap box some more.
    Great.
    Then, they both fake going low in order wrastle, yet never actually fake the other guy out.
    After some more slap boxing, one guy does go low and they tumble to the canvas.
    They both whine and gasp out of breath. Every so often a knuckle uselessly raps a skull.
    Repeat this for 3 rounds.
    Out of boredom, someone is declared the winner.
    Kinda like the instructions on shampoo bottles: Rinse, lather and repeat. That’s UFC.

  32. Kidekk says: Jul 10, 2009 11:31 PM

    When 80,000+ people pack a stadium just to see someone sign a piece of paper (Ronaldo), let me know. Otherwise, no sport will ever have the appeal the original football has worldwide. Moreover, there are 300 million people in the US, and 6 (maybe 7) billion people in the world. There’s a reason why David Beckham is as or even more popular than Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. I won’t even mention anybody from any other sport because few are known worldwide.
    As for UFC getting popular, how big are their purses? I don’t even think that it touches boxing worldwide, and while people don’t think that boxing is still popular here, there are a lot of people who watch it when it’s on.

  33. duffsbeer says: Jul 10, 2009 11:31 PM

    Florio, You are sadly mistaken on this one. I travel the world for work and am a massive NFL / Vikings fan. I also love the NHL which is in some dire straits. It is easier for me to watch UFC or other MMA then NFL or NHL when I am in Korea, Japan, India, Australia, or China. Those represent the biggest population and the biggest growing commercial markets in the world (which is why I am there in the first place) but if they are overtaking soccer (futbol) then they are most definitely taking over the NFL in popularity. In Europe and Canada the NFL has made huge strides gaining millions of fans. But it doesn’t compare to the MMA phenomenom. Now if UFC does manage to dominate in MMA then we will (in your life time) see the UFC garner more revenue than the NFL.

  34. WorldFamousChris says: Jul 10, 2009 11:55 PM

    @Jcovell…my wife watches the UFC and so do a bunch of her friends, dont know where your from but its hugely popular around, no where near NFL but it’s far exceeded soccer at least in my area…

  35. george says: Jul 10, 2009 11:56 PM

    American football fans that know nothing except that sport, you’re all a bunch of idiots. For so called sports commentators like Jim Rome to put down soccer and other international sports that he or the rest of you mental midgets don’t understand, stop acting like you know what you’re talking about. Any talking head or sports blogger that discusses any sport should do his homework. For the record, the world’s most popular sport by far, is football (we call it soccer). Billions of non-Americans watch it every year.
    I’m cutting Mike a lot of slack because we are fellow ‘burghers and his article isn’t so far off the mark. My generation listened to Harvey Haddix’s 12 innings of perfect game until the Pirates lost to the Milwaukee Braves in the 13th and saw Maz’s walk off homer destroy the Yanks in the ’60 World Series. SI recently feted the former on its 50th Anniversary and made me just as proud to be a Bucs fan as I was at 13. Of course, I reveled during the Steelers dynastic 70’s. So, I know these sports as well as any American.
    But my life’s work as a sports/recreation manager exposed me to Olympic and international sports. More than 25 years as an Olympic wrestling coach and official qualifies me to discuss MMA.
    Mixed Martial Arts is a combo of combat sports such as: wrestling, boxing, judo, kick boxing or muy thai, jujitsu (Japanese in origin with a strong recent Brazilian influence) and basic street fighting. When it first appeared on the scene in the early ’90’s, the sport didn’t have early success or clear rules that effectively protected the competitors. Most states refused to approve MMA events that were deemed to be too dangerous.
    Now that rules have been clearly defined and superior athletes trained to attack and defend with techniques gleaned from all of the above mentioned disciplines, MMA has evolved into boxing’s worst nightmare. Most American competitors start as wrestlers that learn techniques of the other sports.
    If idiots like Choirdrunk and Helmetking spent 10 seconds in the octagon or ring with any beginner MMA athlete, they would be eating their words.

  36. bbq says: Jul 11, 2009 12:02 AM

    Football is my favorite sport, but I’m a fan of athletic competition in general. The UFC is very entertaining, and I also love baseball.
    Basketball is OK during the playoffs, hockey is cool when you actually go to the games, and after USA’s recent win over Spain I’m kind of developing an interest in soccer.
    This man’s point was that the UFC will probably be bigger than American football worldwide, and he’s probably right. Football is an American sport, and while many citizens of other countries may be fans of it, there’s not much chance that it will develop any more interest elsewhere than soccer does here.
    Pretty much everyone likes watching a fight. It just has a broader appeal.

  37. DevastationInc says: Jul 11, 2009 12:03 AM

    ufc=pg snuff

  38. Scott says: Jul 11, 2009 12:10 AM

    Personally I dont really care if the NFL takes off in other countries. I think it is a waste of time and money for the NFL to be promoting the game over in Europe and such. And when they actually talk about having a Super Bowl in another country, my stomach gets sick and I actually feel somewhat angry. The NFL is an American game and if the UFC wants to have Europe and the other countries in the world, that is fine. I am a huge fan of the NFL and I would be extremely dissapointed if my favorite team got picked to play one of their home games in another country. It just doesnt seem right. Does soccer or (futbol) sound like a real good trade for the NFL. I dont think so. They can keep futbol and the UFC and I will be fine sticking with the NFL right here in the great United States of America.

  39. realitypolice says: Jul 11, 2009 12:13 AM

    I’m not here to comment on the UFC v. NFL angle. Though I love UFC, football is king in the US.
    I’m here to take issue with a line from Florio buried 3/4 of the way down:
    Florio-
    “Really? Bigger than football in the “U.S. and A.”? Bigger than futbol in the rest of the world?”
    The concept that “futbol” (soccer) is the biggest sport in the “rest of the world”, despite common belief, is nonsense. Here is a partial list of countries where soccer is not the most popular sport:
    1) China (basketball)
    2) India (cricket)
    3) Japan (baseball)
    4) South Africa (rugby)
    5) Australia (aussie rules football)
    6) New Zealand (rugby)
    7) United States (football)
    Those seven countries make up well over half of the world’s population. So how, exactly, is soccer the number one sport in the world?

  40. gb_spottedcow says: Jul 11, 2009 12:18 AM

    Another point of consideration is sponsorship. Major sponsors for the UFC two years ago included Mickey’s malt liquor and Xyience Energy Drink. Now the two top sponsors are Anheuser Busch (Bud Light) and Harley Davidson. The UFC now has mainstream sponsorship, which is a big sign of growth.
    If you haven’t watched the UFC yet, check it out this weekend. I’ve been a boxing fan my whole life, but unfortunately it’s been wrecked by greed and poor match making. I get my fix of great matchups with MMA that is now missing in boxing. Not to mention that Brock Lesner is a monster and fun to watch!

  41. east96st says: Jul 11, 2009 12:33 AM

    I’m a football guy all the way, but as a cameraman I have worked with Dana White. Off camera, he is a soft spoken, relaxed guy that is very driven and very smart. Do I think the UFC “will take over the world”? No. But Dana White has already made more money with MMA, gotten larger audiences, and made a sport that was once a political pariah (remember John McCain wanted it banned and off TV forever) somewhat socially acceptable. Personally, I wouldn’t bet against the guy. White plays this larger than life persona for the cameras and it has made him a lot of money. And he just got the NBC football blog to give him a ton of publicity for free just by talking a little trash.

  42. Redskin'sThePosse says: Jul 11, 2009 12:41 AM

    Wow, you have some strong opinions on this subject. Being honest, I will tell you that I bleed burgundy and gold. That should be obvious given the screen name. However, I will admit an addiction to the MMA sport and to have been an ever growing fan since the early days of Tank Abbot beating his unlucky foes after he seemingly walked out of the neighborhood bar. I will never switch the channel on Sunday to catch a re-run or even a live showing of a heavily promoted UFC fight, but I surely would be aware. Dana White is a smart man. He is a great salesman. He may seem overly ambitious at times, but he knows which battles to pick and they are usually battles that end up with “And the NEW heavyweight champion of the world”!!!! He will never test the waters going against the NFL, but he knows his audience. We are here, every Sunday, watching the gladiators of the gridiron. I for one think the UFC is here to stay and thankfully so. I wish all the luck in the world to the UFC. Please tell me your not still watching boxing?!!?!!?!? The last time I tuned in for that joke was when Lennox destroyed Mike. Before you count out the entire sport, watch a few events. You will see that though there is a hug-fest every now and then, the sport really has a lot to offer for the overall fan of competition and battle. That being said, see you on Sunday, EVER SUNDAY, till the day “I hang up the cleats”!!!!!!!

  43. Redskin'sThePosse says: Jul 11, 2009 12:42 AM

    Also, I can’t agree with this more!!!!!
    treetop203 says:
    July 10, 2009 10:56 PM
    Why are a 9 and a 10 year old watching UFC?

  44. returner8685 says: Jul 11, 2009 1:07 AM

    Did I miss Florio admitting to liking the Steelers? He mentions his former love for the Pirates, and his bandwagon jumping when it comes to the Penguins, so are we supposed to believe he doesn’t have something deep down for the only Pittsburgh team who has been worth a damn the past decade or so? (up until this year, of course)

  45. champcast.com says: Jul 11, 2009 1:22 AM

    I’m an NFL LUNATIC, and I recognize that in far less than 20 years, the UFC has already surpassed the NFL on the global stage – and the NFL has been around since 1920. Mike, i’ll bet you MMA will become an olympic sport before American football will.
    Gabe – ChampCast.com
    Twitter @mma @champcast

  46. alexnexus says: Jul 11, 2009 2:07 AM

    Ok guys: mostly, great arguments.
    From my oart… I live in Mexico City and love the NFL (I played several years ago) and MMA (I train muay thai, greco roman wrestling and boxing).
    I was a boxing fan and I am a fervent NFL enthusiast.
    I think that MMA and the NFL will coexist, and both will be big in the future.
    This is because the nature of these sports are very different from one another.
    Down here we want a NFL regular season game: we kill for one!
    But two days ago the UFC and the biggest television network in Latin America (Televisa) signed a deal for UFC fights and programing in Mexico, starting with a free!!! UFC 100 National transmission this Saturday, on channel 9.
    I believe that, at least in Mexico, with Cain Velazquez and Miguel Torres, MMA will explode really soon.
    The NFL is already big here: go Eagles!
    Cheers!

  47. bouch42 says: Jul 11, 2009 3:03 AM

    @treetop… My 4 year old son watches just about every Ultimate Fighter episode and events with me. He already understands that it’s a sport and something that is done in a controlled environment. Now shut up and go to a little league game where they don’t keep score.
    Dana White is a genius. He took a nearly bankrupt company and created what the UFC is today.
    In literally no time he surpassed boxing. The UFC was the kill shot to boxing.
    He put a free live card on Spike against a World Series game and kicked their a$$ in ratings.
    They would/could never do that against the Super Bowl. Ever. The Super Bowl will always be the single biggest event in the US. Nothing is going to change that.
    Regarding sponsorships… Are Ford and Harley not big enough? They’ve been with the UFC for years.
    Dana is walking a thin line regarding the way he treats his fighters.

  48. Silver&Black666 says: Jul 11, 2009 4:02 AM

    You could take all the other sports, add them all up and they collectively could never equal Football. Football is the most common denominator between all social and economic classes.
    I don’t watch or follow other sports so I am one of those football only guys that watches NFLN all year around.

  49. TBTrojan says: Jul 11, 2009 4:16 AM

    Jcovell
    My wife will NEVER watch the UFC. EVER. Nor will anyone else’s.
    Speak for yourself but don’t speak for others, just because the women in your close circle don’t watch it doesn’t mean women in general don’t.
    I know of plenty of women that watch UFC and wouldn’t dream of watching football, shall I state like a fact that NO woman will EVER watch NFL?
    The whole idea of UFC being the most popular sport worldwide is a stretch but if you look at it in terms of soccer being massive everywhere but the US and football being massive in only the US, while UFC is massive (too a lesser degree) everywhere it does hold a little water. It’s big everywhere including the US which is THE major market.
    It’s not likely to become the #1 overall sport inside or outside of America but the combo of both is what could be the dealmaker.
    Plus how long have those sports been around? You don’t expect a “new” sport to come along and knock them offright away.
    As for the joker (ScottF) trying to compare viewership, one is PPV the other is free to air. You think the NFL would be pulling in those types on numbers if it had been and still was PPV?

  50. VonClausewitz says: Jul 11, 2009 4:19 AM

    Florio, you need to stay out of the prediction business. 13 years ago UFC was worth less than zero. Now they’re the predominant sport-entertainment (hey I didn’t invent the label) product out there. Off of what marketing exactly? Yeah. This is a primal market that is as old as the human race. That boxing abdicated the position of toughest guy arbiter for a few beads, tainted blankets and a deed to Don King’s wig is irrelevant. As Kenny Powers would say, they’re f-ing out, I’m f-ing in. MMA is here to stay.

  51. MRMR says: Jul 11, 2009 5:25 AM

    “pro wrestling that isn’t fake.
    “Dude, get a room.””
    I suppose you took Dana’s promoter comments to heart and need to take the time reaffirm pro football’s place in the overall scheme of things, but the above comments show your ignorance.
    Another observation: TO and Chad’s antics are pretty reminiscent of WWE drama. I’ll refrain from mentioning the criminals in your favorite sport.

  52. Boondock Saint says: Jul 11, 2009 5:44 AM

    This comments page could be the biggest parade of stupidity I’ve ever seen. First off, people are arguing something that is a matter of TASTE, and doing so rather vehemently. Second, using homosexuality as an insult is beyond pathetic. Florio, you and some of the people commenting on here should be ashamed of yourselves.

  53. slutnuts says: Jul 11, 2009 6:43 AM

    why do people care? whats this need for associating themselves with the “number 1″ thing that is out of their control. if the ufc becomes bigger than the nfl (which i doubt will happen) why should you care? will you stop watching the nfl because its not number 1 anymore? as a canadian i live and breathe hockey, and couldnt care less that the nhl is not even on the map anymore. their will always be a pro hockey league where the best talent will be showcased, and thats good enough for me. hockey’s lack of popularity actually saves me from having to listen to people talk about it who have no clue whatsoever (espn).
    finally, it is claimed that soccer is the most popular game in the world. this is because every 3rd world country plays this garbage. all you need is a round object, and you can keep your mind off of how starving you really are.

  54. WoPhat says: Jul 11, 2009 7:30 AM

    “MMA” I understood. I had to google “UFC”.

  55. screaming sheep says: Jul 11, 2009 7:39 AM

    Worldwide I can see them taking over. The sport is very fluid, and easy to pick up and move fights every week. They can have a fight in Mexico City one week, and the next Saturday night be in Moscow. No matter how much Goodell wants to do that, he won’t be able to pull it off. As for the US, the NFL will be top dog for a very long time. I can’t see the UFC putting 16 fight cards together every Sunday and filling 70,000 seats per, and having half the remaining country tune in for several hours.
    And for me the MMA of the late 80’s and early 90’s was much better. Seems they have already had to put in their ” don’t hit the QB” rules. I remember when the NC Boxing Commission banned them because Royce Gracie broke someones arm. That crap that CBS pulled the other month stopping the Kimbo fight was stupid. Too choked down now.

  56. Danny N. says: Jul 11, 2009 7:46 AM

    Oh, Florio, you stooge.
    White says things like so mindless people like you write things like this. And ultimately, you’re publicizing him. So, nice work?
    But you line about getting a room? You religiously follow a sport where guys are routinely hugging each other wearing Lycra compression pants. And they grab each other’s nuts in a pile. And they slap asses. Nothing gay about that.

  57. LiPo says: Jul 11, 2009 8:38 AM

    Hmm I think you missed the point of his statement:
    His statement is that MMA is going to be larger WORLDWIDE than NFL is going to be WORLDWIDE. He never said MMA is going to be bigger in the U.S than the NFL is IN the U.S.
    So anyhow, the NFL has essentially no market internationally except for the Superbowl.
    There could already be more fans of MMA in the world than of the NFL. MMA (not UFC in particular) is already huge in SE Asia.
    Will MMA ever surpass soccer-nope don’t think so- a point which did note.

  58. jsavage58 says: Jul 11, 2009 8:41 AM

    This time last year, ESPN was choosing to ignore MMA. Just yesterday, it was the lead story on their web page. Are they doing it just for clicks,, sure they are. But they are also giving MMA the recognition they tried to avoid.
    UFC has work to do, but I like to see it taking a tiny bite on the ass of the NFL or other sports..
    And to comment on an earlier post.. NFL is just too dam expensive.. its obnoxious

  59. Smush Rodrigez says: Jul 11, 2009 9:12 AM

    Jcovell says:
    July 10, 2009 10:42 PM
    My wife will NEVER watch the UFC. EVER. Nor will anyone else’s. She will go to a MLB game, but not watch on TV. She will only watch the NFL. That is why the UFC will never go main steam.
    ****
    That is a great – your wife won’t watch it. Somehow I do not think that is either sports demogragohic. Couple of questions:
    Does your wife watch atiques roadshow – if so, that is about to blow up.
    Does your wife like porn – If not, that porn industry will never make money.
    You should watch what you like and not ask your wife’s permission or wait to see if she likes it before you decide.
    PS – I would have thought rollerball would have taken over the world.
    PSS – Raider____ ‘s idea about OT being decided by a UFC fight is classic.

  60. Turtle says: Jul 11, 2009 9:16 AM

    No MMA event is ever going to get the number of guys out of yardwork and chores that the NFL does every Sunday. The NFL is a sport that the women understand they don’t get to compete with. Try getting out of a nephew’s birthday party for MMA and see how that works.

  61. TBTrojan says: Jul 11, 2009 9:24 AM

    # realitypolice says:
    I’m here to take issue with a line from Florio buried 3/4 of the way down:
    Florio-
    “Really? Bigger than football in the “U.S. and A.”? Bigger than futbol in the rest of the world?”
    The concept that “futbol” (soccer) is the biggest sport in the “rest of the world”, despite common belief, is nonsense. Here is a partial list of countries where soccer is not the most popular sport:
    1) China (basketball)
    2) India (cricket)
    3) Japan (baseball)
    4) South Africa (rugby)
    5) Australia (aussie rules football)
    6) New Zealand (rugby)
    7) United States (football)
    Those seven countries make up well over half of the world’s population. So how, exactly, is soccer the number one sport in the world?
    Thats very simple, notice how no sport other than Rugby hits the top spot more than once in those 7 countries, overall soccer is the most popular sport in the world but maybe not the single most popular in every individual country.
    There is a reason the winners of the WORLD CUP are legit world champs unlike the winners of the Super Bowl being crowned World Champs.

  62. nowathand says: Jul 11, 2009 2:23 PM

    Florio, you say you don’t like basketball and can only watch Penguins playoff hockey (which, I agree, is the best hockey) but to state your opinions as the criteria why you don’t think UFC will be success, is ridiculous. The NHL has seen a surge in popularity and consistently sells out in its major cities. Major League Baseball still draws huge crowds and people celebrate the power of Albert Pujols and a Jonathan Sanchez (who was sent to the bullpen recently) collecting a no-hitter, even if it’s taken a back-seat to the NBA and NFL in popularity.
    It’s hard to determine just how popular the NFL is but 16+ million tune into “Sunday Night Football” (and that doesn’t count the people who watch it at bars and house gatherings, something the networks aren’t interested in getting from Nielsen and Integrated Media Measurement) and, ESPN, which is only on cable and the cities where the weekly teams are from, got 12.95 million to watch a Cowboys-Eagles matchup.
    I expect these ratings to increase even more this year when you have the debut of Jay Cutler as a bear, Owens vs. the Patriots, Brady vs. Brees, Warner vs. Manning, Chargers vs. Steelers, Eagles vs. Redskins, Ryan vs. Brees, Giants vs. Redskins, Eagles vs. Giants, a bunch of games with America’s Team and Brett Favre hosting the Packers.

  63. DaBeers says: Jul 11, 2009 4:06 PM

    Everyone complaining about the 9 and 10 year olds watching MMA. I began wrestling and boxing at the age of 10. I don’t see a problem with people children watching MMA as long as they understand that this is a competition between 2 men and not a street fight or something to be done on the schoolyard. It all comes down to how the parents are presenting the sport.

  64. Choirdrunk says: Jul 11, 2009 4:07 PM

    George,
    I don’t see how we have any disagreement. True, you didn’t actually make any clear point, but your analysis seems to agree with what I said. MMA athletes are highly talented. There is room for global growth.
    I’m proud of you for having “25 years of Olympic wrestling experience”. Now please develop 30 minutes worth of non-olympic paragraph reading experience.

  65. mustireallyweighin says: Jul 11, 2009 4:07 PM

    I am not sure why I bother….
    UFC 99 has pay per view and attendance of 400,000.
    The Detroit Lions, the worst NFL team and the one with the lowest attendance, by themselves had more than 430,000 fans watch games.
    This is not David vs Goliath, it’s a spec of dust vs Goliath.
    I am not, by any means, saying that the UFC isn’t a success. However, scaling the NFL (even if it was possible – which it isn’t given the brutality of the sport) would take decades.
    As well….soccer is the most dominant sport on the planet…more people play it than any other sport…period (and I hate it)

  66. phillyfanatic says: Jul 11, 2009 4:10 PM

    those knocking this sport obviously knows nothing about it. danny n writes:
    “You religiously follow a sport where guys are routinely hugging each other wearing Lycra compression pants. And they grab each other’s nuts in a pile. And they slap asses. Nothing gay about that.”
    you know how hard these guys work out every day to get to where they are at??? 6-8 hrs of training each day in cardio, various disciplines of martial arts, sparring, grappling, wrestling… so that they can take stage 1 night for 3-5 (5 min) rounds and bang it out with another bad a$$ dude and ur calling it “gay?” yeah, say that to their faces and watch urs get rearranged. trust me, they won’t be grabbing ur a$$. ur friends might be as u lay on the canvas after getting knocked out. try watching something before making 5 yr old comments.
    and florio, u too should maybe take in a bit more of this sport before making ur statements public. you’re right on one thing… “you DON’T think.” in light of this harsh global economy, the UFC continues to florish, not just here in the US, but globally. UFC 100 sold out in minutes. secondary markets are asking $20K-$45K for ring side tickets and getting them sold! pay per view will likely draw 1.3 million buys for this event alone and the organization puts on an event once a month. a “failed” promoter is what u used to describe dana white???? he’s promoted a organization that was bought for $2 million and transformed it into a $1 billion dollar empire. if that’s failing, what the hell have YOU DONE that u can call that failure??? before making such statements, seriously…. get ur facts straight.

  67. 24Seven says: Jul 11, 2009 8:19 PM

    The reason boxing died as a followed sport is that it became so corrupt. Everyone believed that every fight had some sort of fix involved. In addition, they rainbox-ified it like they are doing to the NFL.
    I like UFC, but as a sport it does not have nearly the strategic depth that football does. Fighting is 100% pure tactics. So, it’s interesting to watch…for a bit. IMO, fighting is a one-trick pony. Like all one-trick ponies, it is interesting for a bit but the novelty quickly wears off. Granted, I’d rather watch UFC/MMA than boxing but that doesn’t say much.
    The reason that the rest of the world can’t get into football is that the rest of the world can’t regularly field guys that are 6’6 280 and run 4.5 40’s. Most futbol players would be lucky to be playing special teams in the NFL.
    There is another reason why MMA will never take over the NFL or futbol. No parent is going to let their kid go “play” MMA. It just won’t happen. The only way someone gets into fighting is once their at least 16 and probably 18. Granted, they might take wrestling or marital arts but outright fighting competition on a wide scale? Not happening especially with today’s fluffy bunny generation.

  68. Smush Rodrigez says: Jul 11, 2009 8:43 PM

    Hey Phillyfanatic, let Florio know when the UFC gets bought by NBC.

  69. ricky the rat says: Jul 12, 2009 2:04 PM

    Yes i love watching ufc in reruns on spike TV. but to pay 49.99 on pay per view thats just crazy. the NFL will always maintain that “what are each side thinking of with so many intangibles, hell we could only think we knew what the one side or another was thinking. when all is said and done watching two guys out thinking each other for the perfect blow kinda gets old because we’ve figured it out. a grappler and a striker different means same result.

  70. D.B. Cooper says: Jul 13, 2009 8:48 AM

    White certainly does have a point about the NFL not being popular in countries where they didn’t grow up playing it. I have fond childhood memories of meeting my friends in an octogon and smashing their faces until blood gushed from their little ears while I pounded my chest and spat thru missing front teeth. Boy… those were the days.

  71. RaidersSavior says: Jul 13, 2009 11:29 AM

    I think that all of you are missing the underlying concept here. The reason why the NFL will always trump a sport such as MMA or boxing, or golf, or tennis is simply this: Team competition.
    A team is always greater than an individual. Thats why no one cares what happens to Michael Phelps post-Olympic triumph. Thats why boxers like Arturo Gotti will be after thoughts in papers while Steve McNair grabs every headline in every publication possible.
    Team sports will always trump individual achievements. No one cares about sprinters until it gets to the 100 meter dash final every four years. Where is Usain Bolt right now? Can anyone honestly answer that question without using Google or Bing? No. You can’t. And if you can, I have one bit of advice – get a job and move out of mom’s basement. Playing PS3 & X-box all day will ruin your eye sight, and your mind.
    The argument that the UFC will be a greater organization/sport than the NFL is silly. People rally behind teams because of the dynamic they present. They can hate one individual on a team, but still find it in them to support that person because of the team effort. The Lakers are bigger than Kobe Bryant. The Cowboys are bigger than Tony Romo and yes, even Jerry Jones. The Yankees are bigger than A-Rod. And the Penguins are bigger than… ummm… who even plays/watches hockey?

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