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Where Does UFC Go From Here?

Posted by Gene Morris on July 14, 2009

As referee Herb Dean jumped in to save Frank Mir from the vicious ground and pound of heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, the UFC wrapped up its most highly anticipated event in the organization’s history.

Two belts were successfully defended, a long standing grudge was resolved in another fight, and this event came with the main stream media coverage the company needed to really land it front and center of the sporting world.

Although the company gained momentum going into the weekend by hosting a fan expo and bringing back a lot of older fighters to celebrate the history of the event, one of the larger stories picked up after the event was the post-fight actions of Lesnar.

After finishing Mir, Lesnar walked towards his opponent’s corner as he struggled to get up, got in his face and taunted him.  After the crowd began to rain down boo’s on the champ, he turned towards them and flipped the middle finger.

He got on the microphone for his post fight interview with Joe Rogan, directly called out the UFC’s biggest corporate sponsor, the one who’s logo was plastered on the middle of the mat, and proceeded to rile up the crowd again, before telling them all, “hell, I might even get on top of my wife tonight.”

Of course this caught the attention of the “main stream” media.

The 6:00 PM edition of Sportscenter Monday night teased a debate with the PTI guys on whether Lesnar is good for the sport or not.

Not having the slightest idea of what the next move might be for Lesnar in his division, or even whether it’s a good thing to have a physically dominant monster roll over opponents, you got Bob Ryan lamenting the fact that the UFC is full of bad guys, like Brock, and even worse guys.  He obviously only saw the clip of Lesnar, and not the post fight clip of welterweight champion Georges St.-Pierre, a man who dominated a tough opponent but was as gracious as could be on the microphone afterwards.

It’s sad that fighters like Lesnar are the ones who get the entire spot light all to themselves.  Granted, Lesnar is a phenomenal wrestler, and has greatly improved in each of his four fights in the UFC, but on Saturday his ability was over staged by his antics.

It seems rather hypocritical that UFC president Dana White is attempting to build the sport on the backs of talented and humble fighters like GSP, middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida when he himself conducts business unlike any other president of a company valued at over $1 billion.

White claims the sport will one day be bigger globally than soccer.  Having fighters like Lesnar filling the “bad guy” role should bring short term interest to the sport, and hopefully these new fans will get hooked watching GSP ground and pound another opponent, or Silva unleash his violent, yet beautiful mauy thai striking.

The rate at which the UFC has grown under White’s guidance is unsustainable in the long run.  How much growth is left is dependent on whether the fans want to see fighters like Lesnar or GSP, two polar opposites in terms of personality, but two guys who are at the top of their respective weight classes.  It’s a delicate balance, but if anybody can figure out how to make it work, it would be Dana White


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