Observers would scoff at MMA's chances of succeeding boxing only a few years ago. The masses, they said, would never tolerate the ground game. Boxing would remain our premier combat sport, and fighters like Toney and Mayweather would never bother to even comment on the variation.
That scenario is changing rapidly, thanks in large part to the free-fight industry refusing to let people wander around with bovine complacency in the matter. National television exposure has altered everything. At the height of the UFC's old-school popularity, a quarter-million pay-per-views were sold; today, that number can exceed one million, despite the increased distractions available via the iPod, the Internet, and a 500-channel cable universe.