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SI Cover Makes It Official: UFC Is a Mainstream Sport

The debate is over and the Ultimate Fighting Championship has won. For as long as it has existed, fans of mixed martial arts have heard from detractors who say it's not a legitimate sport. But UFC, the most popular mixed martial arts league, is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, just weeks after its light heavyweight champion, Chuck Liddell, was on the cover of ESPN Magazine. That means it has entered the mainstream.

L. Jon Wertheim's cover story focuses on just that: the fact that UFC is incredibly popular, especially among, in Wertheim's words, "dudes old enough to vote but too young to be president."

This weekend's UFC 71 event (which I'll be live blogging here at FanHouse) has gotten an enormous amount of free publicity from SI, ESPN and other media outlets that just a year or two ago wouldn't have touched UFC with a 10-foot pole. The Chuck Liddell-Rampage Jackson main event won't get the kind of attention that the Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight got, but UFC is starting to enter that territory. That's an incredible accomplishment for a sport that just a few years ago appeared to be on the verge of extinction.

Previously at FanHouse:
UFC 71: Odds Moving in Quinton Jackson's Direction
Chuck Liddell Graces ESPN Magazine Cover
Tommy Morrison Wants to Try UFC, Fight Chuck Liddell
Chuck Liddell Paints His Nails