If you’re reading this site, chances are you resemble something closer to a hardcore MMA fan than a casual one. And as hardcore fans, so many of us live in what I call “the bubble.”
When you live life in the bubble, you really on see things from the inside and don’t have much perspective of what life is like from an outsider’s perspective. For me, these days I rarely interact with people who aren’t diehard into MMA whether it be fighters, managers, promoters, etc. These days, most of my friends have some sort of tie to the MMA industry. Even when I’m not working and interacting with my family I’m still dealing with people on the inside of the bubble since my wife is an amateur fighter and my son trains jiu-jitsu on a daily basis.
So my experience on Friday night was quite interesting because for the first time since I can really remember, I was able to watch MMA with people that knew very little about the sport.
In watching it with them I observed many telling details. On one hand I felt it was unfair to make judgments based on their perspectives considering I was only in a room with about 10 people. But then I realized, if EliteXC is going to survive long-term on network TV, these are the kinds of people that they are going to live and die with. Appealing to hardcore MMA fans only isn’t going to cut it. Hell, I don’t think even appealing to casual MMA fans is going to get the job done either. The CBS telecasts need to make people that aren’t MMA fans into fans.
I watched ShoXC on SHOWTIME right after a fantasy baseball draft. During the draft everyone was watching CBS because it seemed like I was the only one there not involved with some sort of NCAA poll. We saw a few of the “Saturday Night Fights” commercials and I think just about everyone there knew who Kimbo Slice was. In fact, towards the later rounds, one guy even jokingly called out Kimbo’s name when it was time to announce his pick.
While just about everyone knew Kimbo and knew CBS was getting into the MMA business, very few knew what EliteXC was.
The guys in the room pretty much ranged from 24 to 28 years of age. Most of them were single males who spend a lot of their time watching sports. They get together and watch sporting events at bars and at each other’s houses. They are into baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. A lot of them also grew up watching professional wrestling and some of them still watch it on a regular basis. Some of them were even planning to watch Wrestlemania together next weekend. If I haven’t already made it clear, I think what I just described is the typical sports fan that needs to be won over in order for MMA to have any chance to survive on network TV and grow into something bigger.