(You like it? I’m having this airbrushed onto the hood of my Impala.)
As you’re all aware by now, Cain Velasquez became The First Mexican Heavyweight Champion in Fighting History™ on Saturday when he destroyed Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. The crowning of Velasquez should hopefully usher in a new wave of interest in the UFC from the Latino community — but the promotion still has a long way to go until it appeals to all demographics. If the UFC wants to achieve true mass appeal, they should work as hard as possible to check these categories off their list as well…
An African-American Lightweight Champion
Over the years, the UFC has awarded title belts to Maurice Smith and Kevin Randleman in the heavyweight division, and Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans at 205. And even though former welterweight champ Carlos Newton and middleweight king Anderson Silva aren’t American, they would certainly be described by my mother as "people of soul." But the history of the UFC’s lightweight division has been that of white dudes (see: Pulver, Sherk, Edgar) and a fiery Hawaiian warrior (come on, son.) What the division needs is an athletic and explosive champion at 155, who can serve as a role model for kids who are too short to make the basketball team. Do I have to spell it out for you? Okay, fine: A-N-T-O-N-I-O M-c-K-E-E, P-L-A-Y-E-R.
A Redheaded Octagon Girl
While the UFC has given us our share of exotic brunettes, foxy blondes, and, you know, Chandella, we’ve never seen a hot redhead holding the round cards. Ginger discrimination, perhaps? It’s almost 2011, and fight fans are ready for new representations of beauty. The UFC should give a redhead girl a shot when they return to Ireland in March — make her a Suicide Girl-type, and you’re covering two fetishes simultaneously.
A Transgender TUF Winner
Over 11 seasons, The Ultimate Fighter has been a tool of subversion, proving that former drug addicts, fat guys, vegans, and even British people belong on MMA’s largest stage. But a biological male who identifies as female, and may have already had the surgery to get his/her genitalia reversed? Apparently that’s too far-out for the stiffs at Spike. Still, I’ll continue pitching my Ultimate Fighter: Bangkok idea until our LGBT allies get their much-deserved representative into the Octagon.
A Champion Who’s Younger Than 24 or Older Than 44
At 24 years and 4 months old, Josh Barnett became the youngest UFC champion in history when he defeated Randy Couture at UFC 36 — an accomplishment that still stands today, even though it should probably have an asterisk next to it. Coincidentally, Randy Couture is the oldest UFC champion ever, making his last successful belt defense against Gabriel Gonzaga when he was 44. Meanwhile, Mike Tyson became a heavyweight boxing champion when he was 20 and George Foreman was a title-holder until he was 48. I think the UFC can do better. Either get 20-year-old Charles Oliveira a lightweight title shot before he turns 21, or sign the Ruffo Brothers and build them up slowly. As for beating Foreman’s mark? We all know that Jon Jones will be the UFC light-heavyweight champion sometime in late 2011. All he needs to do is hold the belt for 25 years.
A Female President
Not that we don’t appreciate Dana White’s take-no-prisoners approach to doing business, but we can’t help but wonder if a softer, more diplomatic touch would have resulted in the UFC signing Fedor Emlianenko or getting on HBO. The alpha-asshole routine only works to a certain point. Maybe when White retires/dies, Zuffa can promote a woman from within. Like…um…the lady who manages the Octagon Girls? Wait, she’s not there anymore? Okay scratch that. There must be at least one female in an upper-management position at Zuffa, even if you never, ever see them on Dana’s video blogs. And if not, Linda McMahon will probably have a lot of free time after next week…