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For UFC champs, right about now MMA stands for Mostly Modern Americans

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Right smack dab in the middle of the UFC’s process of globalization, all of its champions share something peculiar in common: America. Everybody with a UFC belt in the fourth quarter of the year 2014 is American. Everyone except Brazilian Jose Aldo, who is fighting not just to retain his title at UFC 179 against uber-American big game hunter Chad Mendes, but to prevent the symbolic bald eagle from flying off with the other continents in its talons.

(Here’s where you cue this song and hum along for the rest of the column).

On Oct. 25, down in the Rio de Janeiro, Mendes could make it a clean sweep for the Stars & Stripes, forcing the rest of the world to fly their singlets at half-mast. Pretty soon, we won’t need the subtitles on the promos anymore. That might seem like good news for Hemi-powered patriots and xenophobes, but…man, it starts to feel a little centric for a promotion that speaks so many languages. For all the talk of global expansion, it sure seems like things are zeroing in on the country with all the spoils.

So, what is happening? Didn’t the Gracies invent this sport? Where are you at, Japan? What gives, Canada? Did you lose interest, Russia? Belarus? Sweden? Australia? Holland? England? Montana? What are they training in The Azores these days? Where have you gone, Xavier Foupa-Pokam?

Where in the hell have you gone.

Not that long ago the Brazilians had Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Junior dos Santos, Aldo and Renan Barao all carrying belts, and those were just discovered names. When the UFC began truly infiltrating Brazil in 2011, the idea was that those champions were just the tip of the iceberg. There were swamp things like Jacare ready to emerge. Manaus, where Aldo comes from? Let’s just say there might be dozens of Aldos lurking, if but somebody was only willing to look. There for a minute, Nova Uniao was manufacturing champions like a strike-first-and-ask-questions-later Bettendorf.

Not anymore.

And Brazil wasn’t the only place outside of the States producing champions. Canada had Georges St-Pierre, who was the sellingest star of all stars.

Holland had Gegard Mousasi and Alistair Overeem, both champions in Strikeforce.

Russia had Fedor Emelianenko, the man who cathedralized the ring.

But right now it’s the Ford way or the doorway. It’s T.J. Dillashaw, of Team Alpha Male. It’s hickory-flavored Johny Hendricks, who walks out to Bleu Edmondson’s "50 Dollars and a Flask of Crown." It’s flag-draped Chris Weidman, also known as the "The All-American," a nickname that can’t help but remind you that he’s Not Even Half-Anything Else.

In January, Jon Jones is fighting wrestler Daniel Cormier in battle of certain Americans. Ronda Rousey is fighting Cat Zingano, who hails from Broomfield, Colorado, right in view of the beautiful flatirons that introduce the Rocky Mountains.

America’s cornering of MMA is something to contemplate when you’re watching Matt Hughes’ new reality show all about hunting woodland creatures. (Hughes used to walk out to "A Country Boy Can Survive," by the way, which seems prescient under today’s lights).

However you slice it, the UFC is under the custody of Americans in late 2014, just as Zuffa is making a push to become global. We are one win away from making the UFC belt an American possession. Chad Mendes, a powerful wrestler who wrestles, represents the monopoly.

I know what you’re thinking, though.

This is just a snapshot in time. Right around the corner are our international scale-balancers. There’s Alexander Gustafsson, who is looming over Jon Jones. He could soon be a Scandinavian icon not seen since Ingemar Johansson. There’s Irishman Conor McGregor, who should challenge either Mendes or Aldo for the featherweight belt. McGregor is the new U2. There’s Rory MacDonald, who could fill in (best he can) for St-Pierre up in Canada.

These things are true.

Just as it’s true that some of the champions are at least Something-Americans. Cain Velasquez is Mexican-American, which gives him greater breadth. Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is half-Puerto Rican, half-Mexican. There’s international leeway there. Then again, Pettis hails from Milwaukee, not far from the Miller plant, so let’s not get carried away.

These people are still Americans. Aldo is not a Brazilian-American, he’s a Brazilian.

That’s why his fight with Mendes has added significance. Brazil can’t cede all of its champions to America, can it? Aldo can’t let America become a tyranny of gold accessories, can he? Not just as the UFC is trying to break into every market from here to Timbuktu? Brazil, who has had so many greats from Royce Gracie on down.

Yet, if Mendes wins -- at least for a little while -- America would have all the UFC titleholders.

And that would be a little untimely for a sport where immigrant styles like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, krav maga, sambo, thai boxing and karate have for so long kept things so diversified, right at a time when the doors are swung wide open for international talent to compete.   

Untimely in the grand scheme of things, but then again, hey

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