MMA, Ultimate Fighting – Of course I follow it

Tell me you’ve heard of the hot trend of Mixed Martial Arts (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

Why do I follow MMA? Firstly, I watch trends – why they’re hot, and the successful marketing behind them.

Secondly, MMA itself carries a bit of the underdog air: long banned from pay-per-view, it was brutal and bloody. Management was ineffective, and money was squandered. It appeared as a vice, a manifestation of the low parts of our psyche and society. But then there was a rebirth: MMA cleaned up its image (relatively speaking).

I am convinced that the main attraction of MMA is secured by a dual root: the glory of the film Fight Club, as well as the championship’s perceived authenticity. MMA feels real. The fighters are ripped but don’t carry the image of steroid-induced performers. There are rules to the sport, but there is a naturalness of skill. You find fighters who have studied and integrated various schools into their skill set. A stunning simplicity housed by incredible ability.

And then there are the stories that hook us: Kimbo Slice, the YouTube sensation street fighter and modern Cinderella (please don’t tell Kimbo that I’ve paralleled him with a bedtime story princess). Kimbo’s videos rank in the millions of viewers. What perfect marketing strategy to arrange a fight between Kimbo and an MMA fighter – a guaranteed, expanding audience. The story goes that Kimbo was intended to battle an older veteran, the idea of a good, “easy” intro to the MMA scene. But the veteran was injured and so, the day of the fight, another fighter was chosen at the last minute: a young guy with spiky, red-dye hair, relatively short.

And it was over quick, humiliatingly. In a matter of seconds, out of a planned 5 minute round. Seth Petruzelli victorious … and elated. The newly-crowned Cinderella.

Sure, there are plenty of trends I don’t follow. MMA is big, and it’ll continue to grow. It’s fascinating.

I know there are many of you who listen to NPR, and you might’ve heard tonight’s broadcast on Marketplace. Wanted to be sure you heard another side to this sport – and from someone whom you might assume to be an unlikely follower.


- Brenda Gurung

Comments

  1. I wouldn't say I'm a big fan, but I have a friend who's a big fanatic, knows all the backstories, tapes epidodes, discusses on the message baords, etc. and we hang out a lot, so he kinda forces me to watch (he'll just bitch contantly if I put on C-SPAN or some documentary, so I give in).

    What I like is the sincere regard and respect the contenstants often have for one another, whereas boxing is too often about egoism and macho posing and wrestling is just bizarre theater to me.

    What I don't like is how most fights wind up on the floor in a grapple contest, but I guess that's how a lot of real fights are...I wouldn't know.

    I do like karate and judo and the like but with all the rules it is a more artificial contest...were one to get inside punch/kick range, a lot of those guys would go down quickly. Still, with those limits in place they seem a bit more exciting to me than the out-and-out brawls that are UFC matches.

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  2. MMA is in its early stage and there is purity in terms of sportsmanship, physical balance, skills and entertainment. These are the best time to watch them of course. It will be nasty like Boxing once people like Don King steps in. Although in UFC there are few incident where the matches seems to be set like Brock Lesnar. The guy lost his debut, still got the chance for the title. How's that possible? He's an Olympian wrestler and the Randy only skill was wrestler, which of course was no match to Brock. Brock will be defeated by someone who can kick, punch or chock like Frank Mir.
    Enjoyed your article.
    Thanks

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