Mixed Martial Arts is one of the greatest rapid-success stories of the past decade, and does not seem to be losing momentum. MMA has had its ups and downs since its inauguration, but has ultimately continued to evolve and grow. MMA is competition, and an exciting and unpredictable presentation; but is it a sport?
A sport is defined as: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
When one looks at Mixed Martial Arts, it clearly fits this description. While some may get hung up on the last two words, “for entertainment”; this is more so pertaining to the audience watching, rather than describing the act itself.
Critics might argue that MMA is not a sport, but an entertainment show. The WWE is probably the best example of what people compare and contrast in this regard. One can argue that the WWE fits the description above, but the “competes” part is where it gets hazy.
The difference between MMA and pro wrestling is that MMA is not scripted, nor fake. WWE wrestlers are certainly skilled and athletic, and do undergo real harm in their line of work, but it is not competitive when the outcome is already determined.
MMA has come along way, and has earned its right to be called a sport. While its roots were controversial, MMA has evolved into a legitimate and exciting sport that people all over the world enjoy. With unified rules and regulations, protocols are implemented to maintain the safety of the fighter, as well as the competition as a whole. These rules have helped usher in the new face of MMA.
What helps MMA to be defined as a sport, is the fact that rules and regulations make for a fair competition, watched by a referee and three judges. Strict drug testing and other precautionary actions are taken with each athlete as well.
The fact that MMA is a sport that is popular worldwide, certainly helps legitimize it. American football is extremely popular stateside, but not as much elsewhere. If anything, MMA may be more popular in other countries aside from ours. Both Brazil and Canada are Meccas of MMA, and companies like the UFC are constantly going to new places every year.
But does success and popularity mean it’s a sport?
Not necessarily, since curling is considered a sport, and probably isn’t the most popular one compared to others. With already popular sports in the USA such as Boxing, it’s hard to imagine why MMA wouldn’t be a sport as well. Some might argue that boxing gives the fighter more padded gear and therefore is less dangerous, but that same concept doesn’t apply to football and rugby.
MMA is a competition, in which athletes train and hone their skills to become the best they can be. They train to show the world what they have learned, what they can do, and how much better they are than other athletes. They train and fight for themselves, for country, for their team and families. These acts are nothing less than the underlying principles of the Olympic games and any other sport out there.
MMA is a sport, and the fastest-growing one at that. With most of the States already sanctioned and legalized, and many places over the globe, MMA is here to stay and keep growing. Slowly but surely we have watched sports websites and television gain sections for MMA, and many are soon to follow.