Hey, you! Yeah, you! The "casual" MMA fan. Come here ... no, don't be scared. Maybe you only know who Conor McGregor is because that Irish guy at your job won't stop screaming in your ear about him, and your only other UFC knowledge consists of being pretty sure “that one announcer guy” used to host Fear Factor.
Maybe when you watch a fight and when the fighters take it to the ground, you're convinced they are taking a nap on each other. That's OK! That's more than OK, because you're who I want to talk to. What if I were to tell you MMA is not only the fastest growing sport in the world... it's the greatest.
Prove it? Fine, I WILL! (Sorry for yelling).
Here are 5 reasons MMA should be your new favorite sport ...
5) There's No Offseason!
If you're a football fan, your jersey is still lying at the bottom of your hamper, which you forcefully threw down there after your team's season went up in flames, or if you're a Cleveland Browns fan... maybe you never take it out?
Point being, no matter what (popular) sport you're into, there comes a time when that sport's pinnacle event comes to a close and you must wait months to watch any action again.
That's not the case for us MMA fans!
Nay! We do not know the woes of seasonal sadness because in our great sport there is no offseason! The UFC never lets a full month go by without quality fights to be watched, and if you branch out to other organizations (which I recommend you do), every single weekend could be action-packed with MMA.
So, you could say I like my sports like I like my mimosas… never ending.
4) An Even Playing Field
If the Yankees are 10/1 favorites in the World Series and they've won three games in a row, history tells us that the Yankees are going to win their 30-something-ish ring.
But if you've been paying attention to the UFC and betting on the underdogs, you're probably reading this right now from your yacht in Fiji. Anybody can win and, most importantly, they can do it at any moment in the bout. No matter the fighter's record, win streak or skill level, they are always one blow away from victory ... or defeat.
Bonus fact to rub in: At UFC 186, Demetrius Johnson submitted Kyoji Horiguchi with ONE second left in the fifth and final round. Umm ... WHAT?!?
3) The Women's Divisions
For years sports has had a gender linked to it. And, arguably, in most sports it still kind of does. Don't think so? OK, cool, who's your favorite player on the Dallas Wings? Don't worry... I'll wait. Just so you know, they are a team in the WNBA and I definitely had to Google them myself.
The most popular sport in America is, hands down, football and our twisted version of a female football league requires their football pads to be WORN OVER LINGERIE! Cue eye-roll.
Yet, you can walk up to the dude bagging your groceries and say "name a female fighter" and he'll at least be able to mumble "Ronda Rousey." That's because in MMA, especially the UFC, women don't just take part, (in Conor McGregor voice) "they takeover!" Just to give a little perspective, the average attendance at the 2015 WNBA finals averaged around 9,000.
UFC 193 broke records by selling out the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia with 56,214 spectators in attendance, and they did so with a female fighters headlining the card. MMA fans will remember that night as the “kick heard 'round the world.” (Well worth looking up!)
2) Many Ways To Win
Basketball, baseball, soccer, football and hockey are all different and unique, right? Cool. What are all the ways you can defeat your opponent? I can only think of one and that’s because there is ultimately only one way: score more points than them.
If you've ever listened to an interview with a coach or athlete after a game, the subtext is always the same: “Yeah, they did this and we did that, but eventually we scored more than them and won.”
Don’t get me wrong, that can be incredibly exciting when in the right setting, but in the world of MMA we're not forced to succumb to a points-are-everything system. A fighter can win by knockout, technical knockout, submission or decision.
Who needs points when you can rear naked choke?!? “Goodnight, sweet prince.”
1) It’s Also An Art Form
Now, before we get into the dark hole of what art is and what it is not, let's start here: MMA stands for mixed martial arts. It is the only form of competitive un-armed combat that combines a multitude of different martial arts and fighting techniques from around the world. We aren't just talking boxing and wrestling, there is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, tae kwon do, Thai kickboxing known as Muay Thai, Russian sambo – the list is endless because it is one of the few sports that is ever-evolving. No new form is off-limits.
Like all true art forms, it also takes years to master, to put it into perspective, the average time span to receive your black belt in jiu-jitsu is 10 years! I've never committed to anything for 10 years ... except refusing to get a "real job."
So, is it great? Yes! Is it the best sport? You decide. I challenge you to watch the upcoming UFC 198 with new eyes and an open mind and see if you don't find yourself leaping out of your chair to high-five somebody or, heck, hug a stranger! We here in the MMA community welcome it.
(Images via MMAWeekly.com)