About ten years ago now, I mistakenly picked up an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) VHS tape thinking it was a Pro Wrestling tape. It was because I saw Ken Shamrock on the cover –and to my sick, twisted, eight-year-old mind it was fascinating to see these big men pound upon each other until one was unconscious; or to see a 185 pound Royce Gracie defeat these men almost three times his size with the unknown-to-me-then art of Jiu Jitsu.
From then on I continued to watch this human cock-fighting of sorts, evolve into a worldwide phenomenon watched by millions and now it seems like everyone wants a piece of the action. A sport where once a celebrity would look down his nose upon is now a sport that will provide him with a good payday to put his body on the line for a fight.
Brock Lesnar was the first big name to make the transition from Professional Wrestling to Mixed Martial Arts. Many questioned the legitimacy of him wanting to be a Mixed Martial Artist, but he soon silenced his critics when he won the UFC Heavyweight Championship defeating UFC legend Randy "The Natural" Couture; and following this up by redeeming the only blemish on his record by defeating Frank Mir.
Bobby Lashley was next in line to think that the grass was greener on the other side –much like Lesnar he had an amateur wrestling background and was out to prove that he’s not just a fake. To date he is undefeated with his only notable victory being over Bob Sapp. Thereafter the former WWE Diva Victoria was the next to follow this MMA cash trail and is training for her first MMA fight.
Now Professional Wrestlers are one thing, especially when considering the case of Lashley & Lesnar whom have an Amateur Wrestling background; so then their transition into MMA is a relatively easy one and they’re able to make a name for themselves very quickly and likewise go straight to the top. Considering this I can see their reasoning behind making the move. However now it seems its not just wrestlers looking to cash in on MMA.
Ex-Baseball star Jose Canseco competed in the Opening Round of DREAM's Super-Hulk Grand Prix this past May where he faced 7 foot 2inch giant Hong Man Choi. He was soon forced to Submit after a number of strikes from Choi.
And now Reality TV is next in line, ProElite and Mark Burnett are teaming up to create a reality-based MMA television show staring celebrities and former well known athletes. Oh and its gets better, troubled rapper DMX is set to fight Eric Martinez on December 12 for the Thunder Promotions on the same card that Butterbean will take on Tank Abbott.
Throughout the late 90's especially, you saw celebrities being added to the mix for big Pro Wrestling Pay Per View events. For World Championship Wrestling in particular, guys like Jay Leno & Dennis Rodman made a nice payday from working one night matches that were carried by Professionals. In reality they were just names on the bill to catch the viewers’ attention. But the big difference between that and this is: Pro Wrestling is fake and MMA is not.
What these people fail to realise is Mixed Martial Arts isn't a travelling freak-show anymore; this is a legitimate sport with a cult following behind it to go along with it. When you enter a MMA fight, there isn't an opponent who's going to walk you through the fight and make sure you come out without a scar. These are dangerous, highly-trained men: and you’re going to get hurt if you take on a MMA fight without the sufficient training.