Organized sporting events have their own allure and entertainment value, intrinsically unique in the experience they offer and the way the game is conducted. Rivalries are old storied affairs and super stars spend careers playing for a proud City or State.
At the end of the day, I don’t care to see the nostalgia of two teams playing each other anymore. I feel like the story has been written, time and again, throughout history. I understand what a running back will do, what a designated hitter will attempt, and ultimately what each position is designed to accomplish, which is fill a specific role.
Look at the game of baseball. I can agree that a batter’s task at hitting a curve ball in the major leagues is infinitely more difficult than punching someone in the face, even at the highest level in mixed martial arts. I just don’t anticipate the match ups will provide anything I haven’t seen or will change the way I view any of the players.
When I watch MMA events, as long as the match ups are competitively chosen, it is difficult to predict the outcome. Even attempting to understand an individual fighter’s game plan can change dramatically as a fight progresses and different factors come to light depending on the skill sets and who they favor.
Different fighters have different stories. This is true about any individual. But in many cases, at least this early in the MMA game, fighters bring their own unique style to the table and make decisions in the cage according to a multitude of unique factors. They fight for different reasons. Sometimes they desire to destroy their opponent for offenses they feel were made during pre-fight press statements or conflict is created simply through personality clashes.
Sometimes it’s the fight to see who wins the rubber match in a trilogy ending battle where the winner leaves with all the chips. Either way the stakes are always different, and win or lose, a fighter never enters the cage simply content to wear a jersey, collect a paycheck, or compete. This sport is more personal, and the stakes are higher.
I’ve heard fighters describe winning and losing as polar opposite feelings. One is the greatest feeling ever, while the other is the worst, and all of these extremely personal emotions they experience in the 15-25 minutes in a small cage for the viewing pleasure of thousands and sometimes millions.
Watch the highlight reel below as MMA fighters are shown in their moments of victory and defeat. It really makes a compelling argument that these athletes put more on the line than anyone else in sports.
VIDEO COURTESY OF THE UFC AND UPLOADER GMusicVids..
2. Money never buys championships.
MMA will never have to worry about the Yankees taking the sport by storm. Regardless of how much money is invested in any of the opponents, they still have to fight at the end of the day on the merit of their own abilities. If group MMA fights ever become sanctioned, I’ll feel bad for anyone stuck facing an all Brazilian team of top contenders. Until that day, the better man will always win in this sport.
Another positive aspect is unlike boxing, fighters are forced to fight top competition if they want to stay relevant in their division. Mayweather vs. Pacquiau would have already seen its third match at this point if it was conducted in MMA. Boxers without the ability to draw pay-per-views are avoided in the sport as opposed to embraced.
The ability for any sport to grow is completely invested in convincing the general public that the best talent is competing for the top spots. Once money becomes the most important factor, the sport loses its value.
Hockey is another sport that suffers from the need for a stronger amateur circuit and a lack of competitors in general. I think it’s safe to say that most people who play hockey professionally were groomed by parents who had money. I doubt anyone wonders why minorities aren’t more affluent within the sport. There is nothing wrong with that, except that it alludes to a lower definitive standard of talent. If everyone has the ability to pick up a basketball, throw a baseball, or more specifically to the point, punch someone in the face, then the talent pool is large enough to appreciate in my opinion.
3. The best talent always finds its way to the top.
The beauty of MMA is the ability for a fighter to walk in to the arena and in one night, go from obscurity to fame. When a team is extremely talented, they must prove it over a season. Or when a boxer has talent, he may never receive a shot as long as he’s an unknown fighter.
In MMA, careers meteorically rise and fall. If you have what it takes then you will get your shot. If not, then someone will be there to replace you. This has become more evident as fighters such as Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and many others received immediate success after defeating top level opponents right out of the gate.
No system is perfect and an argument can be made for fighters who feel their talent is being wasted outside of the Zuffa banner in MMA. Yet in other sports, I sometimes get a feeling that talent is sacrificed for name value. Boxing is definitely in this category.
Maybe other sports as well allow players to maintain a spot over an extended period of time regardless of the quality of performance or the promising ability of new talent. This is more of an issue involving the abundance of red tape in my opinion.
If the NFL was allowed to let teams play quarterbacks for a certain amount of games without being forced to sign bloated contracts out the gate, then Brett Favre wouldn’t have continually received offers from other teams. Instead, teams like the Bears who struggle to find consistency in that position would have ten men warming up their throwing arms every day before the big game.
4. This is truly a global sport.
In the past, I never thought that if anyone asked me which country had the most dangerous fighters, I would say Brazil. While if I was asked who had the worst, I would recommend taking one’s pick out of all the Asian countries combined. This isn’t really an opinion. Just look at the numbers.
Simply put, there has never been an Asian champion in the UFC and Brazil currently holds 4 of the 9 titles. If Renan Barao beats Dominic Cruz, and the welterweight belt is unified soon, Brazil will in fact hold the majority of belts in the premier MMA organization in the world.
Looking further, fans don’t seem to root primarily for the home team. Whether a competitor is from Brazil, America, or Japan, people want to see the better man win. I wanted Anderson Silva to smash Chael Sonnen in their rematch just as badly as the next guy. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone, and I think out of all my friends, maybe two were Brazilian.
The old adage, everyone understands the significance in a punch or a kick, regardless of language or cultural difference, really rings true on this one. If a country believes their martial art is effective, what better way to test it in a sport where all martial arts are embraced?
At least when other sports claim to host the world series, the championship, or the finals, only one can really claim to cross all barriers and represent the highest level of talent across the globe.
5. We have Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
The sport that can say they have the badest dude on the planet is capable of capturing the attention and awe of the entire world. Especially when that man is arguable the best there ever was. Can anyone argue that Silva would have trouble taking down Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson? How about knocking out anyone in baseball, basketball, or football?
Although I will accept any argument made for Baltimore Raven’s player and all American linebacker, Ray Lewis. I don’t envy any quarterback who has to force himself to push the fear down of the strong possibility that Lewis might be floating just outside of his peripherals, waiting for an eventual opening.