|ESPN.com: MMA||[Print without images]|
|Cowboys Stadium's high-definition screen was made to project the action that the UFC can bring.|
I've never been, but people who have been to the 40,000- to 70,000-seat stadiums and vast arenas during the heyday of Japan's MMA scene describe it as more religious experience than sporting event.
There probably is something to the idea that the bigger the crowd, the better the communal experience -- unless you're jammed so far up the nosebleed section that your ears pop.
Despite its popularity in the States, MMA has never entertained the whole ocean-of-humanity thing. That could change with news that the UFC is considering running an event at Cowboys Stadium in 2011.
Dana White, who attended this past weekend's Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight at the stadium, walked away impressed enough to consider it a possibility. And he'd do well to pursue it, for a number of reasons.
While Pacquiao's popularity is at the upper echelon of boxing, he is by no stretch the kind of crossover athlete Mike Tyson or Oscar De La Hoya was in his prime -- a chunk of the 50,000 attendees Saturday bought cheap ($35) tickets based on the novelty of seeing a major boxing match in the sports equivalent of the Grand Canyon.
There's nothing to indicate the UFC wouldn't get the same reception, if not better. MMA events tend to be more substantial than boxing cards, making the idea of a more sustained spectacle appealing. (This assumes the UFC will be realistic about ticket pricing, no guarantee when StubHub, "the official ticket broker of the UFC," often waves around seats at a mark-up that would make a loan shark blush.)
That kind of attendance also would serve as a major milestone for MMA's growth in the States. Some industry types are still clinging to the idea of freestyle prizefighting as a passing fad; attracting a record crowd in a major venue would go a long way in dampening their lack of enthusiasm.
Close-ups of hematomas on a 600-ton high-definition screen would only be a bonus.