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MMA barely registers for sports fans

split decision2011-02-02 22:14:34 +0000 #1
Despite UFC and Strikeforce gaining ground, a new poll didn't even bother including MMA when questioning sports fans about their preferences. What the hell are we doing here?


UFC president Dana White is blunt about mixed martial arts' place in mainstream sports.

We're not even close, he says.

That conclusion especially is reinforced when he stumps for MMA in New York, as he did a few weeks ago, and gets questions about the rules of the sport and its brutality. Double that when the UFC goes overseas.

Some in the MMA bubble might be shocked by White's statement. But as an influential poll released today suggests, it's clear that he's right: The sport has a long way to go.

Harris Interactive, a research company with widely distributed and influential surveys, recently asked American fans about their favorite sports. MMA isn't even listed.

According to the 2010 survey, pro football is king of the sporting world and is followed by baseball and college football.

Boxing, a sibling of MMA in the combat-sports world, is ranked 11th. It's outpaced by NASCAR (fourth), hockey (sixth), and bowling (11th).

If bowling is more popular than boxing, where does that leave MMA?

Off the radar, at least from a statistical perspective, said Samantha Braverman, a senior project researcher with Harris Interactive. (Between 2,000 and 3,000 people are surveyed, Braverman said.)

"When the poll started, I don't think mixed martial arts was around, or [as] popular as it is now," she today told ( ). "We've made one change to the list, and I believe that was in 1985 when we separated professional and college football and basketball. In terms of remaining consistent and accurate, that's why."

Braverman, however, said that could change. She's received several inquiries from several sportswriters as to why MMA isn't on the list, and it's "piqued" her interest about its inclusion. A significant trend or change in the sporting world is at the heart of whether a sport makes the list.

Depending on the topic, up to 10 researchers talk to industry experts and groups to get a pulse of an emerging or established sport.

"If we're missing something that's significant, it's important for us to realize that and determine what our practices are for moving forward," she said.

To this point, bubble-dwellers might roll their eyes. Hundreds of millions of pay-per-view dollars? Sold-out arenas? National TV exposure? A franchise valued at more than $1 billion? (And that doesn't even include organizations such as Strikeforce and Bellator Fighting Championships.)

Where are you guys looking?

"I think that as this poll is now out in the field, and we're getting response from it, we'll probably meet and discuss any feedback we've received, and what sports (should be) looked into further," Braverman said. "I would say based on the amount of feedback we've gotten on MMA, it's something that I'll certainly bring up as something we want to see what's going on there, and how we feel about it.

"I can't guarantee the poll is going to change next year, but I think it's something that we'll certainly look into."

Baby steps, MMA fans. Baby steps.

Jackie2011-02-02 22:17:22 +0000 #2
Bowling is 11th? Really? Who watches bowling on TV?
JamieMCFC2011-02-02 23:02:13 +0000 #3

Originally Posted by Jackie

Bowling is 11th? Really? Who watches bowling on TV?

I know my dad does.
Cbear2011-02-02 23:34:54 +0000 #4
Nascar is the one that puzzles me. I can't believe its so popular.
split decision2011-02-02 23:48:29 +0000 #5
I used to think poker on television was ridiculous (if you really want to stretch the sports/recreation/leisure category). Then I started playing Texas hold'em a few years ago and now I catch myself watching the likes of Ivey and Negreanu on TV.

Now, darts on TV, that's ridiculous

Actually MMA is one of the few sports I watch often. Since I got married I tune into fewer sports. Usually try to catch the end of big games, particularly playoffs, in NFL and NHL.
tpnurdle2011-02-02 23:54:10 +0000 #6

Originally Posted by Cbear

Nascar is the one that puzzles me. I can't believe its so popular.

Nascar ratings have actually gone way, way down the last couple of years. They tried to go the corporate route with marketing and lost a lot of the new mainstream fans they built up. In other words, they tried cleaning up the rules, the fights, and take the "redneck" out of it and tried selling it to doctors, bankers, and lawyers.



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