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MMA is kicking serious ass

Mike Chiappetta has decided to take some of the Obama-mania from yesterday and channel it into his own “Yes We Can” article about MMA. In it he talks about how awesome MMA is doing and how it’s only a matter of time before everyone else figures it out. Because simply put, we’re already kicking the asses of many traditional sports:

I work for a network that broadcasts the NHL. On New Year’s Day, an outdoor game at Wrigley Field drew over 4 million viewers in what made it the most highly rated regular season NHL game in 34 years. Ken Shamrock-Tito Ortiz III did those kinds of numbers just over two years ago, and on cable. Here-and-gone organization EliteXC did over 4 million viewers twice in the three shows it ran during 2008.

What about tennis ratings? Here’s a graph of Wimbledon ratings over the last 25 years. If you don’t feel like clicking, it generally looks like the last year of a stock market graph, a downward plunge. Last year’s Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal Wimbldeon final matchup, considered by many the greatest match ever, drew 5.2 million viewers. A Kimbo Slice fight on CBS drew more than that (6.5 million).

OK, you say, but those are niche sports these days. So how about basketball? LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are about as mainstream as it gets, right? Well, The NBA on ESPN averages 1.73 million viewers per game on primetime telecasts. Meanwhile, NBC runs a weekly late-night Saturday MMA show “Strikeforce on NBC” which has drawn over 1 million viewers at times, despite airing at 2 am or later.

He sums it up with this message: MMA isn’t big right now because THE MAN doesn’t want it to be big. The fact that it’s big regardless is freaking awesome … it’d be nice to claim that it’s all because of us internet people pushing it to the forefront but the truth is it’s because the UFC did an amazing job of stewarding the sport through a shitload of obstacles over the past few years.