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With protests in Mexico City, timing less than ideal for UFC 180

With the turbulent events unfolding in Mexico, BloodyElbow’s Karim Zidan delves into why the UFC’s long-awaited debut in the region could not happen at a worse time.

(Miguel Tovar/LatinContent/Getty Images)

"Ya Me Cansé"

These were the words that the Attorney General said to the media after reviewing the harrowing case of 43 kidnapped and murdered students in Mexico. These were the words that sparked mass anger and outrage throughout the country. And now, these are the words that are now being used as slogans in arguably the most impactful Mexican protests in the country's modern history.

Translated to English, those words mean "Enough, I'm tired."

Tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets to protest their government's apparent mishandling of the murdered students case - an incident that escalated to the point where, last Saturday, protesters set fire to the main door of the National Palace in Mexico City. They managed to burn a portion of the door and painted slogans on the wall.

On Tuesday afternoon, the protests continued in Mexico's Guerrero state, where protesters set fire to the ruling party's headquarters. Later in the day, over 70 arrests were made, including the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca.

The issue with gang-related violence is understandable, as the protests flared once it was suggested that the 43 students who went missing last September from the southwest of Mexico were brutally killed and had their charred remains thrown into a garbage dump in a landfill site near Iguala. It appears the drug cartel members were allegedly working with corrupt cops - even acting on police orders - in the region, and apparently were the ones to hand over the students to the criminals.

With that in mind, the UFC will make its long promoted debut in Mexico City this weekend for UFC 180. While the decision to produce an event in a third North American country was an understandable itch, they could never have anticipated the tempestuous market and troubled political atmosphere that will welcome them over the coming days.

Not only are the circumstances inconvenient, to say the least, the UFC 180 fight card suffered extensive restructuring due to a multitude of injuries at the top of the card - mainly Mexican-American heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. While the main event was quickly converted into an interim title fight with between original title challenger Fabricio Werdum and newly slotted Mark Hunt, other fights were not as lucky. Injuries to Diego Sanchez, Norman Parke, Joe Lauzon and Erick Perez would see the event degenerate into one of the weaker PPV events of the year - even by 2014 standards.

This is not to suggest that there won't be Mexican MMA fans and media eagerly awaiting the UFC's first ever event in their country. The country has a rich history in combat sports and, according to UFC President Dana White, was an essential market to crack. However, there is an assortment of reasons why their coming debut could not have come at a more difficult time.

While the initial spark came from the recent incident and the government's mishandling thereof, the reason it continues to expand is due to the underlying problems that this isolated incident represent. Mexicans joined together to address violence, organized crime, corruption, and an unavailing judicial system. Some may consider this long overdue, particularly once statistical evidence is presented.

Humans Rights Watch estimates that approximately 60,000 Mexicans have been killed in drug-related violence since 2006. Other estimates show the number between 50,000 and 70,000 just in the six-year span between 2006-12 alone (via Vox).

Underlying government corruption and abuse of power has resulted in the overall weakening of the democratic system and its institutions, while simultaneously instilling fear and eliminating public trust.

So, with hundreds of thousand of Mexicans out on the streets hoping to free themselves from the underlying corruption, violence and drug-related massacres that their government won't protect them from, maybe this is not the best time for the UFC's long-awaited debut.