UFC 2012: Life Lessons We Can Learn from MMA
MMA—despite being the sport of fighting—isn't just about two guys beating each other up. Mixed martial arts has far greater significance to the world than that.
Specifically, training in the sport (and even just watching it) can teach people valuable life lessons that will forever burn brightly in their memory.
What are some of these lessons and how can a "brutal" sport really be positive? Read and find out!
In the most literal sense of "teaching life lessons," MMA teaches the life lesson of self-defense.
Don't believe me?
Ask the kid who used a rear-naked choke to subdue a vicious dog or the man who stopped a knife-wielding psychopath on the New York City subway by using a single-leg takedown—a takedown he learned by watching the UFC!
Training and watching MMA obviously won't make you superman, but people are better off knowing even rudimentary self-defense techniques than none at all.
Heroes Really Exist
A baby-faced fighter catches a robber and then, that same night, wins the title in his weight class.
It's a story so formulaic and vapid that, as Sideshow Bob would say, "could have spewed from the powerbook of the laziest Hollywood hack."
However, it's a real story!
On the night that Jon Jones captured the UFC light heavyweight championship, he also apprehended a criminal.
Remarkably, there's a fighter who makes these acts of heroism look minuscule. Who could he be?
Phoenix Jones (a.k.a. 4-0 MMA fighter Ben Fodor), the costumed hero of Seattle.
Jones dresses up in a high-tech suit (he recently planned on creating one valued at nearly $200,000) and patrols the streets at night like a real-life Batman. A full profile about Jones and his other vigilante friends can be read here.
The importance of Jon Jones, Phoenix Jones, Mezger, Hardonk, and the countless other fighters that have done heroic acts not reported on is this: They show that, even in this world of cynicism and debauchery, true heroes who do the right thing are real.
Michael Cohen/Getty Images
Individual fights/fighters, too, can also teach lessons.
Look at Frankie Edgar's wins over Gray Maynard and Anderson Silva's first win over Chael Sonnen, both men overcame tremendous adversity, getting absolutely pummeled but ultimately emerging victorious.
The common person can harness this fighting spirit when they are downtrodden and feel defeated in their everyday lives (be it from an overbearing supervisor or whatever malady they face).
Watching certain fights and fighters will teach them that defeat is only a state of mind, that if they keep persevering, they can eventually defeat an adversary (be it a literal adversary or a more abstract one) that seems stronger, menacing and insurmountable.
Perhaps the most important thing that can be learned from MMA is embracing the philosophy behind MMA, meaning that people should discard ideological baggage (as MMA discarded the ideological baggage from traditional martial arts) and simply embrace what works—personally, professionally, politically or what have you.
MMA teaches fans to become well-rounded individuals. Just as MMA fighters seek knowledge in all areas of fighting, so too should the average person seek knowledge in all areas of life by studying martial arts, history, science and various other topics.
In that sense, MMA practitioners are sort of the Renaissance men of their day. Take famed MMA coach John Danaher, for example. He's a skilled grappler and also has a PhD in philosophy.
An example outside the MMA world is renowned astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse-Tyson who, in addition to his scientific accolades, was also a skilled wrestler and competitive dancer.
If all people took such an approach to life (learning about all sorts of topics), the world would truly be a better place.