MMA's popularity in the UK is difficult to gauge, i agree it isn't a top-5 sport here (yet) but it's not too far away and has a dedicated following, alot of shitty local UK shows are getting 1000+ per show.
Alex Reid is the most well known purely because of the tabloid coverage of his non fighting career, so i'd say Bisping is by far the most well known 'for' MMA, but Alex Reid is much more well known in general than Bisping.
An English world champion in an American organisation would defiently push the sport forward by at least a couple of years here, but all this talk is balls anyway, Overeem isn't English.
Yea but that's my point.
MMA is still a very marginal sport in the UK, ok since ESPN/Setanta bought the rights to UFC more exposure has increased its popularity but at the end of the day still it is very low down the sporting food chain in the UK.
The average person hasn't got a clue who Bisping is (or hardy or Daley) only really people who are mma fans (of which there are still not many)
If you stopped and asked 100 people in the average street how many of them would know who Michael Bisping is?
Ask them who David Haye is and many more would know.
If Overeem were English and we had our own heavyweight champion I am not sure it would make much difference, not until the sport itself grew in stature over here (if it did) Carl Fogerty was world champion for years but whatever type of motor bike sport he did never became anything more than a minor sport in the UK.
Right now Darts is a bigger sport than MMA, so is snooker and Phil Taylor and Ronnie O'Sulivan are both bigger names/stars than Bisping is or Overeem would be right now even if he was English.
The best thing for MMA's growth in the UK is for the UFC to start putting on more shows here, or at least using some bigger names for the cards (instead of giving us all the skud cards that no one would pay pay per view for it the states)
But like you say, Overeem is Dutch so who really gives a fuk
Anyway I am off to Amsterdam tomorrow maybe I;ll run into him and tell him to work on his British accent and lay claim to his English roots if he wants a bigger fan base world wide