MMA faces bright, unpredictable future

MMA faces bright, unpredictable future

Published Jul. 7, 2009 7:51 p.m. ET

This is the third in a three-part series on the evolution of MMA and its future.Part IPart II

The UFC seems to be an unstoppable force in mixed martial arts. On April 9, it saw the tickets for its historic UFC 100 event sell out in record time.

This indicates that MMA likely will not see any sign of slowdown in the near future.

Despite the near-mainstream status it has attained, MMA has not completely exorcised the specter of its "dark days." Some in the general public and even the media cling to the outdated image of savagery from the early days of the UFC. Major industry players such as Zuffa (parent company behind UFC) continue ongoing efforts to educate the public and key decision makers on MMA's legitimacy as a professional sport.

MMA is legal in 36 out of 44 states with athletic commissions. With ever increasing momentum, the sports' supporters continue the battle toward legalization in places such as New York, Massachusetts and the Canadian province of Ontario.

While MMA still has a legion of political opponents, such as the New York state Sen. Bob Reilly, an increasing number of public officials see the benefits of legalizing and regulating MMA in their states.

As to the actual product, the UFC's dominance in terms of pay-per buys, live event attendance figures, cable TV deal and brand recognition will be tough for any rival to overcome.

And don't forget, the UFC will continue to attract a cadre of top-level talent from across the globe.

UFC President Dana White has declared his ambition to make MMA the biggest sport in the world — even bigger than soccer.