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The Ultimate Fighter: A Trojan Horse for Taking MMA Mainstream

The above video was just posted on CNBC's YouTube channel to advertise a show that premieres on July 29, Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars. From the looks of it, this show won't tell UFC fans anything new -- I'm pretty sure I've already seen all of this footage -- but it's still worth taking a look for one statement that's made in the video.

Spike TV President Kevin Kay does a very succinct job of explaining something that I don't think can be overstated: The importance of The Ultimate Fighter in making MMA palatable to the masses.

"Spike's strategy has always been to look at fringe sports and see if there's a way to make them mainsteam," Kay says of his network's decision to air the show. "And the UFC seemed like a sport that was on the rise."

UFC President Dana White also refers to The Ultimate Fighter as a "Trojan horse," saying that people first got interested in reality television and then got interested in the sport that the reality show they watched was based around.

I think that's about right. There are plenty of us hard-core MMA fans who saw the sport before TUF came along, but we're vastly outnumbered by the people who wouldn't know the UFC exists if it hadn't gotten on basic cable. In fact, there's a very good chance that the UFC wouldn't exist if it hadn't gotten on basic cable.