Rockin' the Octagon: UFC Sweeping the Nation
The octagon has never really been a sexy shape, has it?
Circles are round and flirty, pentagons have their own building and personally, I've always been turned on by the rhombus, the slanted square.
I think octagons haven't been more appreciate because most people associate the shape with the common (and oft-frustrating) stop sign.
That perception of the octagon is quickly changing.
There's a growing crowd in America that associate the shape with blood and glory. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as the UFC, has trademarked the Octagon, making it synonymous with the blood-thirst for the fights featured on pay-per-view and cable. Fighters trained in mixed-martial arts are really punching, kicking and bleeding in the Octagon.
Boxing has a ring, baseball has a diamond and UFC has an octagon. UFC's pay-per-view numbers have surpassed Wrestlemania and a recent rematch between Tito Ortiz (pictured above with Chuck Liddell) and Ken Shamrock attracted more viewers than the game average of the World Series.
While baseball's claim as America's national past time isn't in jeopardy of being revoked anytime soon, there's no denying UFC's appeal. There's action, violence, personalities and a little sex appeal for guys and girls. The reality of wrestling has always been debated, but in a UFC bout, when you hear ligaments tear and watch blood splatter, it's obvious these guys are thumping each other, to borrow a word from our President. It's a simple, genuine (almost poetic) brutality that the fans love.
In addition to the pay-per-view fights, fans can watch matches on Spike TV or follow a group of fighters in the UFC-spawned hit reality show, Ultimate Fighter, also on Spike TV. It's brilliant promotion as well. The cable shows begat more pay-per-view subscriptions which begat bigger cable show ratings. As the sport continues to grow into the mainstream, its stars like Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell (pictured right) will become household names, much like Dale Jr., T.O., Lance Armstrong and Andre the Giant.
While the biggest group of fans seem to be the Holy Grail demographic for advertisers of males 18 to 34, the crowd during fight nights in Vegas has just as many enthusiastic women fans. Whether it's the pheromones, sculpted bodies or some sort of primal attraction to violence, the ladies love the UFC.
The sport has come a long way from its original mission statement back in the early '90s which sought to find the best fighters in the world, regardless of fighting discipline. The bloody battles that were seemingly lawless went underground in the late '90s, as broadcasters and lawmakers failed to buy into the vision beyond the pay-per-view numbers.
Earlier this century, UFC re-emerged as a legitimate mixed-martial arts sport with rules, a business plan, new owners and a growing audience. Popular in a handful of countries all over the globe, the popularity in America will reach phenomenon status soon as lawmakers outside of Vegas start to sanction the fights. Next weekend, UFC: 65 Bad Intentions will be fought in Sacramento. If you happen to be in Sac City, you can watch the fight in person, or get some beer and watch it on pay-per-view, or even online at UFC on Demand.
If one single match can help catapult the sport into Letterman and Leno guest lists, TV's Top 5 and heavy rotation on Sports Center, it's going to be UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz 2. The rematch features Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz (pictured left), two of the sports biggest stars, in a battle for the World Light Heavyweight Championship. The two friends met in the Octagon once before and Liddell knocked Ortiz out in the second round.
To add to the chaos for the rematch, the fight is scheduled to place Dec. 30, during the New Year's Eve weekend