UFC goes from outlaw to billionaire in no time fast

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Alistair Overeem (L) of the Netherlands and Andrei Arlovski of Belarus compete in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night 87 on May 8, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

It wasn’t so long ago that mixed-martial arts had a very bad name. The sport was considered barbaric, a glorified dive-bar fight, and many states refused to sanction bouts.

Now there are reports the UFC could be sold for $3.5 billion to $4 billion, though the organization denies it’s for sale. Ray Rice wants to know where he can get that kind of image rehabilitation.

How did we get here from there? Never underestimate the power of bloodlust. Whatever compelled the first caveman to pick up a club and crack another caveman’s skull is still very much with us, and the only thing that has changed is that we sell tickets to it now.

The UFC is a bloodsport, but it does have scruples. OK, “scruples’’ might be stretching it. Here are some illegal moves, according to the organization’s website: Head butting; eye gouging; biting; hair pulling; fish hooking; groin attacks; putting a finger into any orifice or any cut or laceration of an opponent; small-joint manipulation; spitting; throat strikes; striking the spine/back of the head; throwing out of the ring; grabbing the clavicle; kicking/kneeing the head of a grounded opponent; stomping a grounded opponent; heel to the kidney.

See? There’s hope for us yet.

I don’t pretend to be above it all. When I’m channel surfing at night, I’ll sometimes stop at an MMA fight. I’m not sure I could tell you why. Something about man vs. man alone in a cage. Am I proud of myself? I can’t talk right now; there’s a guy trying to put a guillotine choke on another guy.

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