MMA: More Than Just a Spectator Sport

Brad McCrillisContributor IApril 13, 2009

HOLLYWOOD, FL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Fans cheer during the the International Fight League World Championship Finals on September 19, 2007 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in  Hollywood, Florida  The International Fight League is the worlds first team based professional mixed martial arts league.  In a match, two teams compete against each other with the winning team being the one whose members win three of five one on one matches in five weight divisions.  Competition goes in a round robin format amongst 12 teams with the teams with the two best records ultimately competing for the IFL Championship.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Mixed Marital Arts seems to just keep gathering momentum and gaining a larger fan base. Many people these days follow the sport and even know the names of the fighters. Not just the big time events and organizations though, even the smaller ones.

For every UFC there seems to be dozens of smaller organizations. Here in Cleveland, there are two that I follow on a regular basis. One is televised locally, and the other is a much smaller group.

However each of these organizations has their own following. The fans that follow them tend to often be involved in the sport itself to various degrees.

I would be one of those involved fans, though you might never guess that when meeting me.

You see, I am the “old guy” at the gym.

I am 48 years old. My original back ground is in Traditional Martial Arts. I teach and participate in a Traditional style called Kempo. Unlike some traditional Martial Artists however I embrace MMA.

Twice a week I take a MMA/no-gi style grappling class. Now I find myself also teaching submission style grappling at our Kempo School and at another local MMA school.

I find that participating in this sport adds to my enjoyment of watching the fights. Of reading what these fighters go through for training. Even on days like today when I struggle to walk down the stairs from yet another muscle draining workout.

MMA has also become a family affair.

My one son recently fought in his first MMA bout. Our youngest is 16 and has a goal of having his first cage fight while still in high school.

When we go to fights people will often ask my wife, Laurie, if she is nervous. She laughs and responds, “Do you know how long I have been watching them do this”?

While Pro Football has High School and College Football to generate its grass roots interest in the Sport. MMA has all the various levels of fighting and training available to the rest of us.

Even us “old guys.”