MMA has become one of the most watched sports in the world. While it still lags far behind such sports as soccer, NFL, MLB and auto-racing, it is becoming one of the fastest growing sports on Earth. Fans anticipate showcase fights and spend millions going to MMA events and watching them on pay-per-view. This should not come as a surprise. People have had a thirst for this type of entertainment for thousands of years.
The formation of the UFC was a turning point in MMA. The UFC worked tirelessly to promote the sport and cultivate a strong following. The UFC is also well versed at creating a lot of hype around their much-anticipated events. They are masters at promoting their fighters as well as their wide array of UFC merchandise.
For many MMA fighters, training is a full-time job. Exercise, diet and focusing on both offensive and defensive techniques are critical. It’s one thing for a fighter to be able to deliver a solid punch and another to be able to absorb one. While the majority may disagree with UFC president Dana White’s claim that MMA “is the safest sport in the world,” many will agree that the UFC has taken many steps towards making it safer than it previously was. While the UFC appears to be doing all it can to protect the safety of their fighters and the integrity of the sport, there should be no doubt that the risks of adverse long-term effects exist.
Here are 13 things you didn’t know about MMA fighting.
13 13. MMA Has Been Around For a Long Time
Long before we were shelling out big dollars to watch our favourite MMA fights on pay-per-view, the Greeks were filling arenas to watch Pankration which is the forefather to modern MMA. Pankration was a sporting event that combined boxing with wrestling. The only rules were “no biting” and “no eye gouging”. It was pretty much an anything goes free-for-all that sometimes ended with a dead competitor. It was like a version of human cock-fighting that evolved into a Greek Olympic event dating as far back as 648 BC.
12 12. Travis Fulton's Record's
11 11. Shannon Ritch's Losses
10 10. Kenneth Allen's 25 Consecutive Losses
9 9. Safety?
Since the days of “no biting” and “no eye gouging,” MMA has added a few more rules in an attempt to minimize serious injury. These added ruled include; No strikes to the back of the head, no groin strikes, no kicking a downed opponent in the head and no hair pulling.
As hard as it is to believe, statistics show that MMA competitors are less likely to sustain serious injury than in some of the other major sports such as hockey and football. They train a lot and average between one and three fights per year. The fighters are also closely monitored by doctors and they are trained very well in the art of defense.
8 8. Super-Duper Heavyweights
7 7. Not Just for Men
MMA is a male-dominated sport that is predominantly watched by a male viewing audience. There has been a recent shift in the sport as high-profile and talented women enter the octagon. Back in 2011, Dana White stated that the UFC would never have a female fighter. A couple of years later, with the emergence and popularity of women’s MMA on the rise, Dana changed his mind. Ronda Rousey had a particularly fast-growing fan base and the UFC President knew he had to capitalize on the opportunity.
6 6. Very Lucrative
MMA offers no promise of unlimited riches but those who are successful stand to make a fair living to say the least. The higher level fighters definitely do make a lot more that the plumbers in the lower tiers. With the popularity of pay-per-view, increasing revenues and a growing global fan base, the UFC is also becoming more lucrative for the fighters.
5 5. Performance Enhancing Drugs
4 4. Large Audiences
The UFC has done a great job in marketing its product. Not only do their events draw millions of viewers through pay-per-view services, they also attract some pretty large audiences to their venues. UFC 193 was held at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The stadium was filled with about 56,000 spectators and the event boasted the third most pay-per-view subscriptions for a UFC fight. The gate took in an estimated $6.8 million.
3 3. Some Fights are Surprisingly Quick
Most fighters train hard for their matches. The fights can sometimes be grueling affairs that go the distance and are decided by the judges. There are also some pretty short fights. In 2008, Cale Grady knocked Ryan Chavarria out in twenty seconds. At WCMMA 14, two fighters by the names of Michael Garrett and Sam Heron went toe-to-toe for just over one second before Garret delivered an opening KO blow.
2 2. Holding Two Belts Simultaneously
1 1. Charity
The UFC and its fighters are far from the cold blooded and heartless animals that some people would have us believe. Despite showing no mercy in the octagon, UFC fighters rally behind a number of charities and causes and have been known to be very generous with their time and money. The UFC is a strong supporter of the US military and its veterans and they have donated millions to this cause. Many fighters also get deeply involved in other charities. Conor McGregor donated €50,000 to homeless charities, Ronda Rousey supports mental health charities while Brendan Shaub has shown his giving spirit by donating to Doctors without Borders and the SPCA. There are countless other MMA fighters who show a lot of good will as well.
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