So what is a blog without the occasional highly biased, under-researched, opinionated article? I'll tell you what it is... boring. I have encountered quite a bit of speculation recently about MMA's increasing acceptance into mainstream America and subsequent future. I could see a few possibilities.
Traveling to Europe, specifically the Netherlands, I saw what happens when you take up a sport that doesn't seem to convince the mainstream that it is worthy of their time. Kickboxing in the Netherlands has a large following, and they produce a plethora of high level strikers. Yet, for a country that produces one of the highest percentages of world class fighters, it is not recognized nationally. Rather it is almost whispered about. Being a fighter can carry a bit of a stigma, as the masses make assumptions of a criminal disposition. So you have a sport that is at a high level, with a competitive people, and popular, but just under the surface of breaking out. The result is a wide variety of fight shows and promotions, multitudes of schools in every town (that are all good), underpaid fighters, dozens of events on the weekends, and no real top dog national proving ground. If MMA in the US fades into the background for some reason, I can see a future similar to this in the US. We would retain all the hardcore fans and have a solid backbone of support, but fall short of justifying why we could produce such a highly competitive environment, and tenacious participants, without any of the reward we would give to our beloved traditional professional sports.
A second possibility is what some, including Dana White, ever the highly-motivated entrepreneur, sees for our sport. A national league, much like the NFL, at the top. Widely accepted and unchallenged as the ultimate goal for any serious athlete and fan that wants to have the satisfaction of being a part of an organized, top tier competition. The athletes would no doubt have a much more satisfactory social status, and ergo better compensation. MMA would be offered in our school systems from the very early ages to the college level. In a society that likes patterns to be followed, this would prove a comfortable and lofty goal for the sport to reach.
Finally, and perhaps most likely, is a future where MMA continues to grow at a steady, and positive rate, and just before it is an Olympic sport, the zombie apocalypse occurs. We couldn't really say we didn't see it coming, or have more than enough video games and movies to be educated on the subject. Fortunately, I consider myself to have a pretty good chance of surviving. I feel like my grappling abilities wouldn't help me out with more than one Zombie at a time, but the Muay Thai would be useful. I never see anyone leg kick Zombies, and I have to wonder why not. I bet a decomposing Zombie couldn't have a very strong skeleton, and you could drop them pretty easy with a crisp low kick. Also it would help to be in shape and motivated, which a lot of fighters are. And good with guns as well. I don't know why, but I seem to see many fighters that can shoot. So very likely, the vast majority of survivors would be MMA guys, and then MMA would be more than a sport, it would be the basis of the re-budding society. So there won't really be a question anymore as to what MMA's future will be, instead we would speculate if anyone is really interested in this "Dancing With The Stars" crap anymore.