Chris Weidman (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)MMA Must Become Synonymous with Independence Day Trey Downey July 4, 2014 Spotlight Sports and the United States of America go hand in hand. Sports are woven into the fabric of Americana, especially with our top holidays. On the biggest holidays in this country, families have huge gatherings. What do they do? Eat, drink…and watch sports, of course. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days of the year, not just for turkey, but for football. All of the sports coverage from the major media outlets is dedicated to the three games on that day. The world stops and the NFL becomes even bigger than it already is. Christmas Day has now become the biggest regular season day in the NBA. They have games from noon until early the next morning. It has become tradition to throw basketball on the television after presents are opened in this writer’s household. No matter how hungover people are after New Year’s Eve, they are still up by noon on New Year’s Day to see the best in college football go head-to-head. You don’t get much more mainstream than the NFL, NBA and NCAA. All of those leagues have their niche and spotlight day where they become the most important thing there is. So, you ask, where does MMA fit into all of this? The sport needs its own holiday. We need a day where watching fights is the thing to do. We need a day where we kick off ESPN’s Sportscenter and pretty much have the whole broadcast dedicated to MMA. That time is now. That time is Independence Day Weekend. The UFC and other promotions need to step up even more than they already have to make sure that Fourth of July weekend every year is the time when MMA is the “it” sport. There are a multitude of reasons why the first weekend in July is the time we need to focus on even more. The first is simple. It already is the biggest weekend in the sport we all love. For years now, the UFC has put on its most stacked cards on Super Bowl weekend, Fourth of July weekend and at the end of the year. In recent years, the UFC has expanded from just holding an event to turning this week into a week-long fan fest and gathering dubbed as International Fight Week. The biggest events in UFC history have all taken place here—UFC 100, Chael Sonnen-Anderson Silva II and even last year’s huge upset victory for Chris Weidman over Silva. This year, the stakes have even been raised. Weidman will defend his title against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and Ronda Rousey will defend her bantamweight crown against Alexis Davis, making for two title fights at one event. The UFC didn’t just stop there, though. The promotion already has its fan expo, numerous pool parties and concerts, but this year the UFC is giving the fans who stick around for Sunday a treat: another entire card headlined by the third meeting between Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn. This isn’t even just the UFC’s weekend though. World Series of Fighting is holding an afternoon matinee on Saturday that will stand as its debut event on the NBC parent network. It truly is an international fight week across the United States, but it won’t just take these great events for MMA to fully stake claim to a date on the calendar. Even if the UFC put on a pay-per-view with five title fights on Thanksgiving night, it still wouldn’t unseat the NFL when it comes to coverage. This is the perfect time of year for the sport to grow and relish in the limelight. With the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs both being over at this point, we are officially in the dog days of summer. This is a weekend where the biggest competition the biggest MMA cards of the year will face is a hotdog-eating contest and some meaningless mid-season baseball games. In the eyes of MMA fans, UFC 175 is, of course, the biggest sporting event of this weekend. The UFC just needs to convince the rest of the world to believe the same. All of the events surrounding the fight, the bigger stage at the weigh-ins, the Hall of Fame induction—all of these add to the spectacle. The UFC must continue to up the ante. One thing that must continue to be pushed is the patriotic promotional angles. As seen from the success of Team USA in the World Cup, our country will unite behind a team. They would do the same for a fighter. This should be a weekend where we see a USA vs. the World card. Not only would fans tune in to see the best match-ups possible, even people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves fans of the sport would still watch to get behind their countrymen and women. I love my football on Thanksgiving, I love my basketball on Christmas, I love my college football on New Year’s, and I love my MMA on the Fourth of July. Our country agrees with those first three statements. For MMA to truly become huge, our country must start to agree with the fourth.