Sports Illustrated is a bit behind the curve on this one since MMA has been tearing it up and earning very strong ratings for a year now. I am not a big fan of MMA but I know plenty of people who are and this stuff has been blowing up, especially with the Ultimate Fighter reality show on SpikeTV, fights on SpikeTV and the enormous PPV bouts MMA has staged.
SI queries whether MMA is "Too Brutal Or The Future"? Sounds like some crusty old editor doesn't like that things are changing in his sports world. The fact is MMA has already addressed much of its alleged brutality by adding weight classes and sterilizing for cable TV. It has also gone through battles getting sanctioned in states where legislatures didn't want to give it a chance because it was too brutal. All the hurdles have been cleared.
It's clear MMA is one of the sports of the future because boxing can't do anything but trip over itself; hockey probably won't recover from its crippling strike; and, baseball just doesn't hold the interest with today's youth as it did with previous generations. MMA is here to stay. Heck, the Ultimate Fighting Championship series has been around for nearly fifteen years. But, I guess SI being slow on the uptake is just indicative of it perhaps being on its own path similar to boxing...a slow march to irrelevance.
By the way, has a dude's junk ever been so prominently featured on a SI cover?