Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is one of the fastest growing sports in America. A report put out by MMA Payout details it’s growth over the past few years. I admit I’m not an avid fan. Dishing out the money for the over priced pay-per-views is way out of my entertainment to cost ratio. However, I have watched a few of the fights at local pubs and home showings gaining an idea of the good current and past fighters. When a United Combat Sports – Caged Combat came to town I seized the day, rounded up a couple of friends, and went to the fights to check it out first hand.
Fight night, we show up on time for the first fights not really knowing what to expect other than cage fighting. The card starts out with amatuer bouts. These guys are are like 2-0. You can see the nervous energy in their eyes while they try to shake out the jitters and look as tough as possible. When these guys fight, there is little stand up, maybe some minor boxing but most of them go to the ground pretty quick. On the ground the guy that landed on top won every time. They were able to posture up and pound once mounted or quickly grabbed an arm for a tap out. Not a lot of action and most fights didn’t make it out of the first round. The exception was the one amatuer bout where both fighter had 15-2 records. They were quicker, could defend themselves, and dish out some. That match went the distance with a split decision. The ametuers have some extra rules; no knees to the head when on the ground which helps to keep them alive. The fighters are paired by capability, meaning a 2-0 guy won’t be fighting and 14-1 guy.
I can see why MMA fighting is one of the fastest growing sports. Men need an outlet for testosterone over loads and MMA provides that in a moderated sport. It is the only sport other then boxing and hockey where fighting is allowed, heck expected. As I was watching this I noticed this had nothing in common with my occasional fight, which usually lasts about 7 seconds and five punches before a small army of guys has broken the fight up. In the street fight there is always a breaking point for one guy and the fight begins. In MMA fights the fighters weight the same, have about the same skill set, may have researched the other fighter, and have agreed to fight by the rules. Worst case if they are getting killed all they have to do is tap out.
The final few bouts were the professional bouts and the difference from the amatuer level was staggering. The Professional fighters are faster, more powerful, could take a punch and give one at the same time. The stamina of the professionals was unreal as well. They can beat on each other for 5 minutes and then jump up and walk to their corner like nothing had just happened. The biggest change from amatuer to professional that I could see was defense, the pros know how to defend against everything. They make big punches into glancing blows and twist out of chokes without thinking about it.
Final analysis: MMA is manly and acceptable as a sport. Go check it out live before it’s over commercialized and time outs are allowed.