Being Thankful for the UFC

Ultimate_fighting_championship_ufc_medium We've all got our gripes with them, but it's difficult to find this analysis disagreeable:

Twenty-six live events, two weekly best-of shows, two seasons of television’s guiltiest reality-show pleasure and 95 percent of the top fighting talent in the world, all regularly cracking each other’s bones for our entertainment pleasure.

It may be de rigueur to harass management for their business practices, but there’s little merit in claiming that any other company provides the sheer quality, quantity and in-cage integrity of Zuffa’s Ultimate Fighting Championship. In a year where we’ve seen some truly heinous behavior from the me-too promoters -- who always seem a step away from either prison stripes or bankruptcy court -- the UFC’s efforts have looked positively pristine in comparison.

Unlike boxing, which has a roof audibly creaking from the weight of past transgressions, the UFC has essentially homogenized combat sports -- an accomplishment on par with Harold "Red" Grange moving from college to pro football and turning the latter from a national joke into a national phenomenon.

Champions fight rightful contenders, weight classes are kept to a minimum and big fights are the rule rather than the exception. That kind of uniformity is the major reason mainstream media outlets are running fight results alongside NBA scores.

No money? No problem. Of the 26 UFC and WEC events that will be held this year, 14 of them aired on free television; they’ve made millionaires out of guys who had previously fought for a few thousand bucks and a free Trimark VHS tape; they compensate even lower-tier talent with performance incentives, circulate back-door checks like night club flyers and make a genuine effort to determine who the Best Fighter in the World really is.

The banner isn’t perfect -- the fine print, as we’ve seen in the Jon Fitch likeness fiasco, is stubbornly one-sided -- but in the often-dirty world of pugilism, it’s the sport’s equivalent to comfort food: You know exactly what you’re going to get. And that’s a good thing.

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