(kinda punchy, not very articulate. And on the left, Chuck Liddell.)
Appropriately enough, days after Tony Kornheiser used his PTI pulpit to declare he has no interest whatsoever in UFC — which, for the purposes of the modern sports audience, is a far more outrageous statement than saying you don’t wanna watch soccer or hockey — the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir considers Mixed Martial Arts’ recent path to mainstream acceptance.
The U.F.C. is Sports Illustrated™s cover story this week, and its premier star, Chuck Liddell, was the cuddly cover boy (holding his 8-year-old son) recently for ESPN the Magazine. œ60 Minutes has done a story about the sport, and ESPN.com promotes sherdog.com, a mixed martial arts Web site.
One of M.M.A.™s newcomers, the International Fight League, has one new alliance with USA Wrestling and another one with the U.S.O., which this week allowed seven of its fighters to sail aboard Navy ships from Norfolk, Va., to Manhattan and Staten Island with 3,500 sailors for Fleet Week.
All this appears to be the multichapter prologue to tomorrow night™s Liddell-Quinton Jackson light heavyweight championship match in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where a capacity crowd of 13,318 was announced yesterday, with gate receipts of $4.4 million anticipated.
But to Dana White, the high-energy, combustible president of the U.F.C., the fact that major news media organizations are now recognizing M.M.A.™s appeal is merely symptomatic of their previous ignorance.
œNo disrespect to the media, but this has been the hottest thing for 18-to-34 males for the past few years, he said. œThe media franchises are supposed to have their finger on the pulse of things, but they™ve been way behind here.
Even as the U.F.C. has been building up Liddell-Jackson as a grudge match, the playwright and director David Mamet has been filming his mixed martial arts movie, œRedbelt, in Los Angeles. Studying jiujitsu for the past five years prompted him to create a story about a master of Brazilian jiujitsu who, instead of teaching fighters to grapple inside a U.F.C.-like octagon fence, instructs police officers, stuntmen, bouncers and Special Forces soldiers.
œI™ve become fascinated by the art and science of jiujitsu and the death of boxing, Mamet said. œAnybody who™s observed it for several years knows that boxing is over and it™s time to be replaced.
James Murphy, while not necessarily unavailable for comment, hasn’t been asked for a quote simply because I lost his phone number.