With Diego Sanchez and Roger Huerta on the same card this weekend in Houston, Texas, UFC 69 could "prove to be a litmus test for the type of acceptance the promotion can expect south of the border," according to a recent article from Steve Seivert at the Houston Chronicle.
In other words, the UFC is hoping Latino mixed martial artists will attract new Latino fans in a densely populated Latino market.
Makes sense, because according to Seivert, the massive demographic hasn't yet embraced the sport.
Here's a snip:
"While Latinos are the most passionate boxing fans on the planet, they have yet to - en masse - embrace MMA with the same fervor."
And according to Huerta, misconceptions are a big reason behind the relative lack of interest among the Latino population.
Here's snip from "El Matador:"
"They believe that it's just a bar fighter and it's a no-holds-barred type of sport. Honestly, it isn't. We have rules and regulations in place. They just aren't educated about the sport right now, but as the sport continues to evolve, I believe they're going to look at us as professional athletes. Once they watch it, they get hooked."
In a way, boxing can be considered that national pastime of the culture — some of the best fighters in the world were and are of Latin decent. And aside from soccer and a smattering of baseball, I'm hard pressed to think of another sport that is more popular among Spanish-speaking sports fans quite like boxing.
The UFC plans to hold future shows in Mexico, which would without a doubt be a huge step toward turning passionate boxing fans into mixed martial arts enthusiasts. With young and talented ambassadors like Huerta and Sanchez, it seems like the UFC is on the right track.
Make no mistake, however, this is an uphill battle — boxing is a way of life in some Latin countries.
Yet, for the sake of the sport -- and my seemingly endless monthly pay-per-view contributions -- I hope that the UFC is wildly successful.
Imagine the unreal wars inside the Octagon if boxing legends Roberto Duran, Julio Ceasar Chavez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and others ever got turned onto MMA?
It would be absolutely sick ... and hopefully a reality someday soon.