Despite UFC 120's best efforts, MMA's future in UK lukewarm
So why am I unconvinced the same formula will apply over time to British MMA? For the same reason White has boosted Englishmen
At this stage of his career, Bisping is considered by most to be a quality pro and a favorite over all but the world's best middleweights. But that's hardly good enough, not if he's to carry the UFC banner much longer in the UK.
The question that should occupy Bisping, his promoter and his fans: can he become more than he currently is? Because "if I can't do it now," the 31-year-old fighter astutely pointed out at the post-fight press conference, "I'm never going to do it."
At least he's willing to acknowledge that. Bisping is under no delusions of grandeur, not after what
Bisping should provide answers shortly. After out-pointing Akiyama, he said he'd like a bout against one of the division's toughest threats, then hopefully a title shot. Considering the lack of depth in the UFC middleweight division (remember 185 is one of those weight classes that features legitimate talent outside the UFC) that's a plausible scenario.
Guessing here, but based on the schedule UFC put together at 185 over the next few months, the winner between
Hardy, who last appeared in the Octagon suffocating underneath
Undefeated coming into the night, John Hathaway had nothing but the future in front of him. He can take solace in a weak effort against veteran
"It's back to the mental preparation," Pyle said. "It just took me a little longer than most people to get over the UFC jitters. This is the big show. It's a lot bigger than any other show I've fought on. I have to train for that and think I've taken the proper steps.
"I'm seasoned. I train with the best, I feel, that's out there. I just knew I'd be able to outwork the kid for sure. I just knew in my heart that I could beat him."
See, Hathaway's trainers should tell him, there's no rush.
"It was the biggest win of my career so far," said the lanky 26 year old.
Despite joining up with MMA guru
Still, some fans were apparently enraged because ESPN had the gall to include results of a minor UFC card (there wasn't a championship fight) on its news ticker during college football on ABC.
What was White's response to this anger?
Search "espn ufc" on Twitter to get a sense for the reaction White prompted. Yes, this is the UFC president, with more than 1.2 million followers, telling people to
A better suggestion, as pointed out by a lucid observer via Twitter: How about directing complaints to UFC's TV partner, Spike TV?
As I mentioned in the opening, Dana White strongly disagrees, and he's smart to do so based on what we know of MMA and how people across the globe have reacted to it in recent years.
"It doesn't matter what country you're from, it's about the type of fighter you are," he said when asked about British fighters' struggles. "When you think about it, we've taken the fight business to a whole 'nother level. You never put on a fight with two Brazilians in Montreal. It's insane. It wouldn't work. But it does with this sport."
Yes, MMA can be captivating, as it was when
MMA is "in" for 2010. Two or three years down the road, without an emerging British star, will the UFC continue to pack a place like O2? The likelihood is strong that the sport will continue to grow in the UK. But the rate and scale of that growth could be impacted significantly by whether or not British fighters are capable of winning against the best.
This is why the UFC pushed Bisping and Hardy so hard from the outset. They needed British fans motivated by the prospect that local fighters can compete against anyone. And this is why UFC will continue nurturing British prospects up the ranks.
Because of the UFC's investment in the UK and the continent, MMA is embedded on the minds of fight-friendly European fans. Gyms are popping up. More kids are trying it. All this leads me to believe the UK -- and other areas -- will cultivate fighters good enough to be the best. It just hasn't happened yet. (If it does, this is moot.)
But what happens if British fighters can't take the next step? Will the crowds keep coming for more good-but-not-great names? Will London mimic Montreal -- which became MMA crazed after Quebec's St. Pierre broke through -- and support two Brazilians in the main event?
I guess, I'm not so sure.