Three Things Politicians Could Learn from the UFC: Lex McMahon on the rise of mixed martial arts


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In the mid-90s pundits and politicians had nearly forced mixed martial arts to tap out. Ardent boxing fan Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) led the charge against the new sport, slamming it as "human cockfighting." Cable companies shunned the sport and nearly 40 states banned it. And yet today, MMA has not only survived, it's become a global juggernaut, dominating pay-per-view events, and perhaps even proving safer than McCain's beloved sport of boxing.

Lex McMahon has witnessed the rise of mixed martial arts firsthand. McMahon runs Alchemist Management with CEO and three-time Grammy Award winner MC Hammer, and the two manage some of the best fighters in the world, including Nate Marquardt, who headlines Wednesday night's UFC Fight Night 22 and Brendan Schaub, who takes on Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 121 on October 23.

McMahon sat down with's Ted Balaker to weigh in on the improbable mainstreaming of MMA, how promoters learned that improving safety would attract more fans, and what this most cosmopolitan of sports does to foster an environment of innovation.

Approximately nine minutes.

Interview by Ted Balaker. Shot by Hawk Jensen, Alex Manning, and Paul Detrick. Edited by Balaker. Music by doublethink; available at Magnatune.

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