Sunday, February 7, 2010

Barely 16, the sky's the limit for MMA


The date was November 12, 1993; The place was McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado and the event was an unknown commodity simply known as 'The Ultimate Fighting Championship' or UFC for short. It was raw, it was unsanctioned, it was on pay-per-view and it was supposed to determine at the time what martial art was truly effective in combat. That was partly true, as it was really a platform for The Gracie Family to introduce to the world an art form they created from traditional Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, which they aptly named Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. This would later become universally known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

That was 16 plus years ago and while it seems like a long time, it really isn't when you stop to think just how far this phenomenon and now legitimate sport has grown. The sport itself has its own name Mixed Martial Arts or MMA, which is a lot more civil and appealing compared to the original acronym that was used to define the sport, NHB or No Holds Barred. Think about it, originally the rules simply consisted of no eye-gouging or fish-hooking, there were no weight limits or restrictions between opponents and the eventual champion had to win a minimum of three fights in one night. That leaves a lot of room for chaos and blood of which we received plenty of both.

Nonetheless, it moved forward and with each passing event the sport grew, not only in its form, but in its popularity as well. The UFC started to establish personalities in its fighters, broadcasters, as well as referees and some rules and regulations even started to be put into place. However, as with any new entity that starts to generate revenue and a buzz, it also had its share of political and internal strife.

National political figures, such as former Presidential Candidate John McCain, tried their best to put an end to it. Discrepancies in house between the original owners and promoters almost caused its demise. Yet with the very resilience that lives within its competitors, the sport survived.

Inevitably, others saw the dollar signs and the UFC started to see competition in the form of other promotions starting up, including 'Pride' from Japan. However, it was the eventual purchase of the UFC by Zuffa and the vision of its new President Dana White to foresee what this sport could become. That would eventually propel it and the UFC into what it is today. A global phenomenon that has become the fastest growing sport in the world and has only begun to scratch the surface of where it can go.

MMA the sport has now been accepted as just that, as ESPN covers it on its news networks and national news outlets such as 'The USA Today', includes it in its sports coverage. Websites, such as this one, are solely dedicated to covering it and major corporate sponsorship has become a part as well. Even its athletes, once referred to as "Barbaric Human Cock Fighters", are now well-respected celebrities in and around the sports arena and entertainment circles.

Yet, for as much growth as the sport has incurred, it is still not regulated in all 50 states including New York. Thus, the fastest growing sport in the world will have to wait before it can be played out under the lights of Broadway in the world's greatest arena, Madison Square Garden. It's only a matter of time though because at barely 16 years of age, the sky's the limit for MMA.

2 comments:

  1. Good stuff. Informative for new fans, and nostalgic for us long time fans. Look forward to the next one.

    ReplyDelete

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