For years, a group of fans has audibly hoped the day the UFC would face serious competition. They waited with baited breath for Dana White to fall on his face, hoping against hope someone would come along to knock the UFC off its pedestal. All those mismatches, marketing "stars" over "pure" MMA, and Dana's brash attitude were "bad for the sport" and MMA needed a hero to save it.
Now that the competition has arrived, I hope people are thrilled with what they have. Nothing has amused me more over the last 24 hours than seeing "MMA Purists" realize that UFC's product is tremendous all things considered, and the alternative they waited so long for made a mockery of the sport they love and achieved great success in doing so.
I suppose this will be the beginning of the reconciliation between online MMA fans and the UFC. When the alternative is Gary Shaw, Kimbo Slice, rappers, dancers, and exploding cauliflower ears, "shitty cards" like UFC 85 don't look so bad anymore. It may be "unfair" that Machida doesn't have a title shot yet, but it is surely not as offensive as what we saw Saturday night.
The face of MMA changed permanently this weekend, and in my opinion, it was not for the better. Part of the blame has to lay at Dana's feet for not doing the first MMA deal on broadcast TV, but nobody knows the details of the deal like him, and given how much he wanted a deal like that, the details must have been real bad.
I expect that given the success of the show in the ratings last night, NBC will promote Strikeforce to a live event by 2009, and one of the other major networks will go ahead and sign up UFC. In a way, the MMA war will be great for fans because we'll see big fights, and lots of them, but nothing can change the fact that the lasting image from the first MMA show to ever air on broadcast television is James Thompson's exploding ear.