The Sport Is Called MMA Not UFC
Well as much as try not to have to many gripes in life this is one that has been bothering me for quite some time and I was inspired by recent ignorance in my personal life while conversing about the beloved sport of MMA to write about it.
See Mixed Martial Arts is the sport and Ultimate Fighting Championship is a brand of said sport albeit the most well known and largest brand it is not the sport despite popular ignorant consensus on the matter.
When you hear statements like :
"Oh Brock Lesnar is the best Heavyweight ever." or
" Fedor sucks, all he's beaten are two UFC has-beens." or
" If they don't fight in UFC they don't matter." or
" Pride doesn't matter cause it's gone."
These statements and those of similar content has pushed me to write this article.
I would like to start by stating my own history of watching the sport. I am what they call a "hybrid fan" as in I watch both Boxing and MMA.
As of now I am thirty years young and have been watching MMA since UFC 1, some Shooto and even Pancrase. At the time I was about twelve or thirteen and knew little beyond boxing or kick-boxing. So this "human cock fighting" as it was coined became very appealing.
Watching those early UFC's now make's me appreciate the evolution of the sport. I rented the VHS tapes and followed the sport up until 1999 at UFC 22 when Franck Shamrock fought Tito Ortiz and won via TKO then retired.
At this point the sport had faded to obscurity in the USA and was banned from the country I believe. Frank Shamrock was my favorite fighter and once he retired I just lost interest. I still watched boxing and would occasionally hear about or see a random MMA fight but didn't really keep up on it.
Though I was really into my martial arts training in 2000 (doing kick boxing and some BJJ) I would hear about MMA fights and even a name or two I recognized but, still was not as interested in what had become a sport in my eyes.
So fast forward a few years to early 2004, I am still training and have moved into other arts. I reconnect with an old friend and as we are hanging out we get to chatting about fights. Mostly boxing but, he asked me if I watched MMA at all. I said not really it's to much of a sport now as I understand it.
So he tells me he's got few newer ones to watch, so we watch UFC 45. I saw a few faces I recalled in Pedro Rizzo and Tank Abbott. I'd heard of Matt Hughes but, never seen him fight so I was impressed with his win over Frank Trigg.
So at this point I am enjoying myself and we continue on with UFC 46 I see a few more familiar faces in Vitor Belfort and Randy Couture.
However when I see this guy called BJ Penn who I am told is a Lightweight moving up to Welter challenging a larger Matt Hughes for the title I became a fan once more. Well, I thought this Hawaiian kid had bitten off a more than he could chew. Also a young GSP whooping on Karo Pariysian was really impressive.
I could not have been more wrong as I watched in awe he choked Hughes out in the first round. So after this I am thoroughly into the sport and continue the year with a crash course of MMA exposure.
Next I saw Pride Fighting Championships and enjoyed that as well though in a ring with different rules than UFC it was no less impressive. I literally watched everything I could Rumble on the Rock, King of the Cage ext.
The Internet and my friends library of VHS and DVD's allowed me to see nearly all that I missed in about five years.
The last thing's I saw in 2004 that made me a fan for life was Fedor Emelianenko getting suplexed by Kevin Randleman. A move that looked like it should have killed the Russian warrior but, he proceeds to recover and submit Randleman.
Then Chuck Liddell beating down Tito Ortiz in devastating fashion that was it I was hooked. Now early 2005 I believe The Ultimate Fighter TV show comes around and all the sudden people become like horses with blinders and UFC explodes into the main stream.
Then it began that MMA became UFC for most people. So my gripe began as well.
Now you see I watch fights in any capacity, I even watched that YAMMA debacle, not that I am proud necessarily just emphasizing the point that I watch them all at some point.
At current I watch Affliction, Dream, Sengukou, Strikeforce, WEC and, UFC primarily. Though other MMA events occur I see them when I can.
See the sport of MMA in the USA owes most of it's rise to a household name to UFC and while I am grateful for this rise in exposure I think it has some negative factors.
On to my gripes -
1. "Oh Brock Lesnar is the best Heavy weight ever."
When a guy whose record is 2-1 gets a title shot at Heavyweight legend Randy Couture for the belt and wins, all of a sudden everyone else in the division has to step aside for Brock Lesnar almighty.
I don't hate Brock—he has great potential and is coming along nicely as an MMA fighter. The fact is, UFC did not sign him to a $250,000 per fight contract because he was a real MMA prospect—they bought, "Brock Lesnar, WWE superstar".
You make that investment on a well known name to bring in a new demographic and future poster child for the sport you gotta get your moneys worth. So while the fight should have been Randy Couture vs. Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueria (the holder of the Heavyweight interim title at that time) it instead became billed as a tournament.
Ultimately, the tournament is giving us a rematch to unify the titles coming up at UFC 100 between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. Would have been better to let Couture fight Nogueria giving us a true Champ last year then let the tournament be held for No. 1 contender.
My main gripe here besides politics of the entire situation, Brock Lesnar got pushed to the top too fast and has yet to gain much needed experience so he will likely be beat by some guy he should have risen through the ranks with—perhaps Shane Carwin or Cain Velasquez in the near future.
He may well be the greatest heavyweight ever some day but not now.
Also, Antonio "Minotaro" Nogueria, a true legend of the sport, who was never stopped in a fight until recently gets no respect. Most UFC fans don't know him at all and consider him washed up.
UFC has done virtually nothing to promote the man other than when he won the interm title acknowledging him as the only Pride/UFC champion in history. While he may be on the down side of his career the man deserves serious credit for his numerous years in Pride.
The fight with Cro-Cop alone is a testament to the man's skills and toughness.
2. " Fedor sucks, all he's beaten are two UFC has beens."
There are so many things wrong with this statement it's not even funny. This is a real issue to me in the UFC dominant US market. The guy has a record of 29-1-0 (one NC) with his one loss being an illegal elbow he took to the head 18 seconds into his forth MMA pro fight.
Instead of it being a No Contest a panicking ref and management of a minor MMA organization declare it a loss. Fedor re-matched the man who "beat" him Tsuyoshi Kohsaka five years later at Pride Bushido No. 6 and made the Japanese fighter quit in between rounds after giving him a merciless beating rather than submitting him.
Fedor's resume of opponents reads like a "who's who" in MMA with victories over: Ricardo Arona, Renato " Babalu" Sobral, Semmy Schilt, Heath Herring,Antonio "Minotaro" Nogueria ( 2 wins and 1 NC), Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Mirko " Cro-Cop" Filipovic, Mark Hunt, Matt Lindland, Tim Sylvia and, Andre Arlovski.
He has won most by submission utilizing his Sambo skills and unorthodox striking. Fedor is a dangerous fighter and while smaller for a Heavyweight these days at 6' and 230 lbs he beats up larger guys with ease.
In late 2006 or early 2007, UFC buys Pride and most of it's fighters except Fedor who was under a different contract. When UFC tried to get him, negotiations fell apart allegedly for many reasons foremost of which was the UFC refused to allow Fedor to compete in his yearly Sambo tournaments.
Soon after HW champ Randy Couture leaves UFC to pursue a fight with Fedor.
Why? Simple an aging Couture wanted to fight the best out there. After a year of legal battles it never happened and Couture returned to the UFC.
Even in his fights in 2007 for which Fedor was ridiculed for fighting a smaller Matt Lindland and a massive but unskilled Hung Man Choi, he was still as active as he could be.
Hung Man Choi a freakishly large man at 7' 2" and 352 lbs., Fedor was ridiculed for taking on such an opponent who was considered a joke. Fedor arm bars him 2 minutes into the fight. Regardless of quality of the opponent he was out weighed by over 100 lbs!
So when it comes time for his fight with Tim Sylvia I recall a comment of Sylvia's:
"Well I ain't Hung Man Choi".
He certainly wasn't getting submitted at 36 seconds of round 1 in a vicious beat down.
In his last fight with Arlovski, Fedor was losing to a well prepared game plan. Arlovski got too eager and rushed in with a flying knee to be KO'ed in mid air by a massive overhand right. Luck you say? Maybe, but good luck proving that one.
The man's alleged secret is his chilling demeanor and exceptional mental discipline. Though being a skilled fighter with an iron chin and will helps.
3. " If they don't fight in UFC they don't matter."
I will make this simple—here is a list of ten guys in no particular order if they don't matter then you are just a UFC fan boy period. This list could go one forever but here are ten of my personal favorites that are active and not in UFC.
Joachim "Hellboy" Hansen
Norifumi "kid" Yamamoto
That's enough said on that I believe. I could go on but those are ten guys that don't fight in UFC and they are very relevant to MMA.
4. " Pride doesn't matter cause it's gone."
I will answer that in similar fashion to No. 3 and give list of former Pride fighters now in UFC. Here are four that stand out.
Anderson " Spider" Silva
Quinton " Rampage" Jackson
Dan " Hollywood" Henderson
Antonio "Minotaro" Nogueria
Also Pride gave us a different venue of MMA; it was in a ring with different rules.
No elbows at all, but you could knee and kick to the head on a downed opponent and, the first round was 10 minutes followed by two 5 minute rounds; if anyone makes it out of the first.
They would also give out yellow cards for inactivity taking 10 percent of a fighters purse then and there.
In closing, I would like to say that this article could go on forever and I chose to stop here. So for those of you that know what I am talking about congratulations your and MMA fan.
Those of you who don't know what I am saying or who these guys are I named then do yourself a favor and find out. The sport is MMA and everyone that fights in it is not solely employed by the UFC.
Saying they don't matter because they're not on your UFC tuned tv is like saying " I've never been to Paris France so it doesn't exist." Thanks for reading and feel free to blast me with your opinions.
Peace out and MMA forever!
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