MMA was once shunned by mainstream sports despite getting included into ESPN ceremony

Mixed martial arts have had a tough time getting accepted by the general public. UFC has existed since the early 90s but despite the fact that it featured striking, wrestling, and kickboxing it was never quite as accepted. And perhaps the payment structure had something to do with that.

Even in 2010s, it was not quite there. This is perhaps why Hollywood’s leading agency saw fit to purchase the organization – because they certainly had the muscles to give it a push in mainstream culture if not more.

But it wasn’t always smooth sales.

While ESPN regularly awards an award to various athletes of mainstream sports, UFC has only been included in the awards ceremony from 2019 onwards. And even at that – the initial inclusion is one of the awkwardest things you’ll ever see in MMA.

 The inaugural winner of the Best MMA Fighter ESPY Award was American UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier – but unlike any other award recipients Cormier didn’t receive his award on stage.

But even this year ESPY award was very peculiar – if anything it showcased the power of an athlete’s manager over their actual accomplishments. Among the nominees this year were:

Alexander Volkanovski
Charles Oliveira
Kamaru Usman
Kayla Harrison

While Usman and Oliveira are certainly mainstays on the P2P list – the presence of Kayla Harrison in the mix is highly suspect considering she’s never faced anyone even remotely close to her level as such there are a number of other athletes both male and female that would perhaps be more appropriate.