Mixed Martial Arts: The Next Big Sport
Mixed martial art, or MMA, is a combat sport that combines striking and grappling and numerous other techniques. Some people compare it with boxing or wrestling. However, when you take a close look at the many styles that are involved, you are able to see just how unique this sport really is. The numbers show that more people are beginning to take notice of the sport. MMA is on the verge of being the next big sport on television.
MMA has reached such a high level of popularity around the globe in recent years. The sport gained the international spotlight and widespread publicity in the United States in 1993, when Brazilian Ju-Jitsu fighter Royce Gracie won the first UFC tournament, sparking a revolution in the martial arts. In the beginning MMA was looked upon as street fighting since there were minimal rules. Now, thanks to rule changes and the better conditions of atheletes, the public now accepts it.
As the popularity of MMA continues to grows, there will be more local fights. My hometown of Hammond, Louisiana has recently put on fights where local people are training and giving it there all in order to be recoignized. Neighboring cities of Baton Rouge, Mandeville, Covington and even places in Mississippi have put on fights showing that in the South, we are beginning to take interest. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC, is the biggest organization involved in MMA. When UFC announced the pay-per-view that would be held in Texas, tickets lasted just two weeks. In addition, the television networks have started to cash in in the popularity of MMA fighting. The Ultimate Fighter, a reality show for fighters, is actually in its 10th season on Spike T.V. Not only does it have higher ratings than any baseball game or tennis match on ESPN, but it is also higher in ratings than shows on Lifetime, TBS and many others.
When people argue that MMA is just a copied form of boxing, they could not be more wrong because, as a boxer in the ring, the only thing to worry about is the other man’s punches. In MMA when you go into a fight you have to be prepared for any form of martial arts, including: boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, karate, jujitsu, and mai thai . INot only do the fighters train in all of these areas, the fighters also have their area of strength. So, for example, in the UFC 43 Main Event, Randy Coture, a foirmer Olympic wrestler, fought Chuck Lidell, who is known for kickboxing. Both fighters train in all of the different aspects but each has a strength that they excel at and Coture is wrestler and Lidell is kickboxer. This shows how different MMA is to boxing and that it is not just a copied form of it.
When MMA is said to be just like the sport of wrestling, I must disagree. MMA involves numerous forms of martial arts and they are combined with wrestling maneuvers. This alone shows that it is not another form of wrestling, it is unique. WWE is not the sport of wrestling, it is only entertainment. The wrestling style that MMA tends to involve is the Greco wrestling style which is strictly grappling. But when you look at Greco wtlye wrestling compared to the MMA style, therer is no comparison. In MMA, when the fighter goes to grapple they can be hit with an uppercut or a knee and this is a huge difference. Like when wrestler Jujitsu artist Frank Mir shot in for a take-down and the Mai Thai Stricker, Brandon Vera, clinched and kneed Mir resulting in a knockout. This would have never happened in Grecco style wrestling match.
As more people begin to notice the real differences between boxing and wrestling and MMA, poularity continues to grow. With regular coverage on ESPN and in the pages of Sports Illustrated, mixed martial arts continues its rapid rise. With a mainstream acceptance, international media coverage, and a constantly increasing fan base, MMA is on its way to become the next big sport.