As of this moment, mixed martial arts is still a niche sport in North America. Five years from now, who knows. But right now, it's still got a ways to go before we can count it among our national pastimes.
Thus, when I hear reports about eight-digit viewership totals for UFC on Fox in Brazil, it's hard to grasp what that really means. That's a lot of people, to be sure, but it's almost impossible to visualize as words on a screen. This video, however, helps illustrate the point.
Before Mauricio "Shogun" Rua could headline UFC 139, he was just another young kid from the slums of Brazil. Fights are relatively commonplace at house parties, but in my experience it's rare to see anything more than yelling and flailing. How often does a brawl involving Thai clinches and head kicks break out in the middle of the living room?
That's why this grainy clip is so fascinating to me. As no one bats an eye while the 16-year-old future star goes multiple rounds with an unnamed adversary at a party in Curitiba, Brazil, it exemplifies the significance of Dana White's "60 million viewers" exaggeration. When mixed martial arts is as commonplace as pick-up basketball, it's easy to understand why there are three current Brazilian UFC champions and a flood of exciting prospects looking to extend that number.