Mixed martial arts has made a lot of strides over the years in its quest to become a mainstream sport.
However, casual fans and critics still seem to hold on to many outdated misconceptions that continue to portray MMA as barbaric and violent.
While violence will always be a part of the sport, MMA is much more than two guys going at it inside a cage.
Here are some of the biggest misconceptions outside observers have of the world's fastest growing sport.
One of the most of the misguided notions that MMA's detractors still cling to is this idea that the sport has no rules and is basically just human cockfighting.
True, in it's heyday, MMA was truly no holds barred, allowing everything from soccer kicks to groin strikes...just ask Joe Son.
But as the sport has evolved, there have been a number of strides made to ensure the safety of the fighters including the creation of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
Even while some rulebooks differ depending on the country, MMA is definitely safer today than it was when the sport first started.
Casual fans still don't seem to find fighting on the ground that exciting...but that's because they don't really know what's going on.
Hardcore MMA fans love ground fighting because they can discern the nuances when a fighter sweeps an opponent, passes the guard, goes for the submission, etc.
Outside observers just aren't as well versed with grappling because the majority of combat sports' history has been dominated by striking arts, such as boxing and kickboxing.
As the years go on and grappling arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu become even more popular, don't expect the loud chorus of boos when bouts hit the ground to stick around.
Casual sports fans sometimes think of themselves as fashion critics when they call out MMA fans for wearing the oh so bro-ish TapouT shirt.
They seem to think that everyone in the sport (especially fighters) has a closet filled with these shirts, which I don't have to say is blatantly untrue.
Unless a fighter is actually sponsored by TapouT, the only other people you will see wearing them are the wannabe fighters, aka, fans who take a few classes and think they are fighters.
Not taking anything away from the brand, but there's more than just one MMA clothing brand out there.
The rising popularity of the UFC has done wonders to transform the image of the sport, but even today, many casual fans are still unaware that the sport is actually called mixed martial arts...not UFC.
The number of times I've heard newbies in the gym say, "So you train UFC, right?" is too high to even count, but it makes for a great inside joke with my training partners.
However, it's time to put it to rest, the sport's called MMA, people.
Whenever I watch fights with buddies of mine who don't train in or watch MMA, inevitably the conversation leads to them thinking that they could get in the cage.
They think that it's just brawling and that there is no real skill involved.
MMA is one of the hardest sports in the world, not just because of the toll it takes on the body, but also for the years of training it takes to master all the various arts. One could spend a lifetime just trying to perfect a single move, let alone several martial arts at once.
These fighters sometimes train two to three times a day and spend years perfecting their techniques, so calling them brawlers or saying they have no skill is way off base.
MMA fighters get a bad rap because casual observers think they are uneducated thugs for beating people up in a cage.
While violence is inherent to the sport, most fighters are the complete opposite of this bad boy stereotype.
Most fighters are actually really good people and almost all of them have a formal education.
According to EducationConnection.com, 70 percent of fighters in the UFC have college degrees, a staggering statistic when compared to other major leagues such as the NBA, where around 20 percent of players have a degree.
Not only are these men and women smart, but they do a lot for the community. Current UFC middleweight Brian Stann uses his military background to give back to those who serve our country. UFC vet Roger Huerta started a charity to help out underprivileged children.
The notion that MMA fighters are uneducated thugs couldn't be further from the truth.