The Growth of MMA
I have been involved in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts for around 20 years. First as a spectator, then as a competitor & now as a trainer of fighters.
Since the early days there was a push within the MMA community to make the sport more mainstream & more appealing to the general public. I never really cared about this because I was interested in the sport & loved it whether the general public knew about it or not.
Thanks to the expansion of the UFC the sport has become much more popular. Everyone knows about the UFC & MMA, its easier to watch events on TV & on the internet, fighters get paid more money so can now train full time & there are more MMA gyms so its easier to find places to train.
Huge Increase in Popularity
I never imagined MMA would reach this level of popularity for various reasons but mostly because for the majority of its history it was seen as a controversial & violent blood sport which should be banned rather than popularized. In the early days it was necessary to promote the sport as a border-line illegal death match spectacle to attract more fans.
True fans of the sport knew that MMA was’t just about two angry steroid users locked in a steel cage trying to injure each other for money & an ego boost. To us it was about skilled martial artists who had spent their life diligently training to perfect their skills & were now given the chance to test themselves against an equally well trained opponent in an environment that would allow them to use the full range of their skills i.e. All types of fighting skills grappling, striking are allowed under the rules.
Changes in the Sport
These days however things have changed. Rather than athletes who have spent their whole lives training in martial arts or combat sports now we see people who watch MMA on the TV and think ‘yeah i can do that’ then training for a while so they can be a cage fighter & impress their friends/fans.This is the opposite of what the sport of MMA should be about. It should not just be people off the street beating each other up in the cage for entertainment.
I think this is a dangerous development in the evolution of the sport. In a time where authorities are trying to find ways to crack down on street violence it is much harder to justify the existence of this sport.