We as hardcore fans know the deal. Anytime the sport of MMA takes place in an area where the citizens are not familiar with the sport, usually there is some type of backlash. A prime example of that was last year when the UFC held its first event in Germany at UFC 99. It was almost like we were in a time warp back to 1993 with all of the human cockfighting, bloodthirsty, this isn't a sport type of headlines the local press conjured up. In fact, the event almost didn't take place with the UFC having to place a ban on minors(fans 17 and under) from attending the event. There was some favorable coverage, but all in all the majority of the press was negative. The UFC continues to meet opposition in parts of Canada, and there are still 7 states in America that have not agreed to sanction the sport.
However, it seems as though the tide is beginning to turn just a bit.
Just about a week ago, the 43rd state in America(Wisconsin) decided to pass legislation to sanction the sport of MMA. Which leaves only a handful of states before all of them are complete. Truth be told, if the state of New York passes the bill, all the others will more than likely follow suit at that point.
One thing that has surprised me is the lack of negative press the UFC has had to endure with their initial foray into Australia with UFC 110. It's no secret that the event reportedly sold out in a day or so, and there is a degree of understanding about the sport in the country. The UFC has strategically placed some local guys on the card, albeit they are veterans of the sport. There was a little bit of backlash from some local media when it was first announced that the event would be held in Australia. However, I checked all of the major newspapers online and couldn't really find anything negative about the event in the past few days. In fact, all of the pieces I did find had large numbers of comments. The majority of them being positive and happy that the UFC was coming to the country. The negative comments that I did find were largely fans consistent of fans comparing the sport with boxing, arguing that one was better than the other. I saw a few comments that suggest that the UFC was fake like rassling. However, for every one of those comments, there was about 8 defending the legitimacy of the sport.
I know Australian born Elvis Sinosic has done a great job of educating the local media as he responded to the linked article above with his own personal letter as well as other fighters. I'm sure the UFC has lobby-ed hard in the country as well. Maybe others are starting to grasp what we as fans have known for quite some time and maybe not? Have we really come this far in such a short amount of time?
The post fight coverage of the event from the local media will probably give us the answer. What do you think?