"If there was an overriding theme for UFC 105 Saturday night, it was the coming-out party for British mixed martial arts.
In a country that hasn't embraced major American sports like football, basketball or baseball, MMA, in two and a half years has become one of the country's most popular sports, with a fan base that matched crowds in the UFC's hometown of Las Vegas in their appreciation for the technical points of the sport, and a roster of fighters that continually improves.
The country's two most popular MMA fighters, Michael Bisping (pictured) from Manchester and Dan Hardy from Liverpool, had the most impressive performances of their respective careers at the Manchester Evening News Arena, as British fighters had wins in six of eight matches against opponents from other countries.
With the exception of football, the national sport, boxing, and native sports like rugby and cricket, MMA is as visible any sport as in the country. And in comparison, the night before UFC 105, in Manchester, Ricky Hatton promoted a boxing show headlined by his brother, which was nationally televised and heavily promoted, and drew less than 1,000 fans, while the UFC event drew a sell-out of 16,693 fans. White said he believed that set an all-time record for the Manchester Evening News Arena."
I never bought the forced T.U.F. declaration the British were invading. However, I will confess to being impressed - legitimately impressed - for the first time by the development of the larger professional MMA scene in the UK at UFC 105. Still many hurdles to climb, but the progress is now truly undeniable.