Despite the success of Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, Terry Etim and Michael Bisping in the UFC, British MMA has been caging it's possible growth.
It may have been a long time since mixed martial arts was considered ‘human cock-fighting' in the US, but just across the pond MMA is just attempting to shake of the shackles of the public's misconception of the sport.
Although the UFC broke it's European attendance figures when it attracted almost 17,000 people to Manchester's MEN Arena in November, that is a drop in the ocean compared to what most people in this country still think of MMA. I should know, after all it was only 18 months ago that I was one of these ill thinking people.
You see, I sort of stumbled into a ‘love affair' with MMA. Embarking on my final year of a sports journalism course in university, it was required of me to construct a 16 page magazine on a sport of my choice.
Now everyone in this country likes football, (or soccer as you will undoubtedly know it) your choice of team is like a birthmark and I couldn't go doing that along with everyone else. No I needed something different, or even better, something controversial.
MMA, or as I knew it, cage fighting, fitted the bill perfectly. I wanted to show that this sport was just an excuse for high school bullies to get into a cage and throw. I planned on getting some juicy interviews from people with a poor opinion of the sport, and burying it.
Now, don't forget, over here there is very little MMA on the TV apart from the UFC, which isn't hugely advertised, and the main media outlets do not openly cover MMA. In fact the only prominent sports journalist who covers MMA is Gareth Davies, who you may be familiar with from MMA Live.
I'd heard a few names, but ultimately I knew very little of the sport, so the first interview I did was with a Brazilian jujitsu coach named Gary Savage, who is a student of Wolflair's BJJ coach Mario Sukata, who holds a loss to Eddie Sanchez at UFC 63.
I thought that I would go to his gym and find a bunch of tearaways and juice heads, so imagine my surprise when they picked me up, dropped me home, treated me with respect and even offered me to join them to train (which I politely declined.) Gary explained how MMA had transformed the lives of his students. I suddenly saw MMA in a different light and my whole project changed into a pro-MMA magazine.
18 months on and I'm hooked, Il watch anything I can on TV and the internet, and I am keen to learn as much as I can as possible about the sport. I see now why I prejudged MMA, it is quite clear. Let me take you back to those two words I mentioned earlier, cage fighting.
It is the moniker which MMA still regularly goes by in the United Kingdom. It is a moniker which organisations such as Cage Gladiators and the now defunct Cage Rage went by and one that they are trying to now shed (Cage Gladiators has now been rebranded as Olympian MMA Championships.)
Ultimately it is a moniker which threatens to keep the success of MMA in this country on a leash.
You see, the simple name cage fighting gives the notion that it is just two men or women fighting in a cage, no holds barred. It implies there is no skill, or no art, to the sport. It is the equivalent of calling boxing fist fighting. MMA on the other hand promotes an entirely different idea, one of skill, art and competition.
Until the UK's MMA world promotes itself as martial arts, and that is starting to happen, the major media outlets, the newspapers, the BBC and Sky Sports, will stay away. Convince them to get on board, and watch this thing fly this side of the pond like it has done in the US.
The UFC is trying it's hardest to make that happen, with the Ultimate Fighter Team US vs UK and events over here, but they need to get themselves on the mainstream channels to make it really happen, and those channels won't touch it until they are convinced of MMA's authenticity as a sport.
Other promotions, such as Strikeforce, would do well to tap into the UK market before the UFC is too comfortably established. Failing that, our own MMA promotions could try to push for new television deals.
With the retirement of Joe Calzaghe and the decline of Ricky Hatton, the only high profile boxers Britain has left to pull for are David Haye and Amir Kahn. Dan Hardy and Michael Bisping could prove to be heroes in this country if only the masses knew who they were.
MMA is making up some ground in this country, but it still has a long way to go yet before it is accepted into our mainstream of sports. A lot could rest on the shoulders of Hardy (however improbable) when he meets George St. Pierre at UFC 111.
We may be quite a few years behind the US when it comes to MMA, but we are catching up, fast.