In the early days of the UFC, the sport was barely recognized. Teetering on legality some 20 years ago, the promotion has changed perception with more companies taking notice.
Lightweight Pat Healy, who joined the UFC this year, has seen the difference first hand.
“You see it mostly in UFC,” said Healy to Oregon’s KGW. “They get mainstream sponsorships and people don’t look at you crazy anymore when you tell them you’re a mixed martial artist, or they always call you a cage fighter. Not as many crazy looks, let’s just say that.”
As for sponsors, fighters riddle their attire and banner with their names. One of the biggest is Nike. They sponsor the likes of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Junior dos Santos.
Healy returns inside the Octagon at UFC 165. He’ll look for his first official win as the previous one was overturned when he tested positive for marijuana. He takes on Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov.
UFC 165 is this Saturday, September 21. It comes from the Air Canada Centre and FightLine will be there live with play-by-play.