Anyone who has ever paid a second's notice to mixed martial arts has heard it all before. MMA
is a bloodsport, human cockfighting, it's not a real sport—the list is endless.
Why does the laymen, with little knowledge of this historical and world-class sport disregard it so? What is the barrier that keeps MMA from true acceptance in the sporting world?
For one to point outward, first they must reflect on themselves. MMA has shown its ugly side more than once, and an evolution has occurred.
That evolution has allowed MMA as a whole to identify, address, and rectify most problems it has encountered as it grew. While many hurdles lie ahead, the road is fraught with obstacles.
The biggest obstacle that MMA now faces is not getting Fedor and Brock in the same cage. It is not who will beat Anderson Silva
. It is not about Kimbo Slice.
Those events are only important to those who truly follow and support the sport. Together that community is sizable, respectable, and knowledgeable in most cases.
Yet in the big picture, they truly are just a fraction of the true general public. The general masses would just as soon dismiss MMA than pay it a moment's time. Many will never give it that much.
Still, there are many who just need to be shown, and they will come to be entertained by a fight. The hope is that some of them will appreciate the beauty of the sport, the fluidity of combat in motion, the indescribable display of heart and pride. Then they become fans.
So how does MMA reach these potential fans?
The biggest obstacle in MMA is mainstream media coverage. At this juncture in time, mainstream media is actually more foe than friend. Mainstream media has single-handed kept its foot on the neck of MMA for some time now.
While there are signs the ice is thawing on the relationship, it is still a very cold one. MMA is a daily event in many parts of the world. Important events happen all the time that get no attention.
Rarely does MMA make the "front page." Only mega events like UFC 100, or St. Pierre vs. Penn II get mainstream coverage. For the most part, MMA is an afterthought on a back page, where the hardcore enthusiasts will find it. Even there it is only loyal to the heartbeat of mainstream MMA. If they don't have Fedor or Lesnar on their roster, they don't get much love.
When MMA does make the front page, it is usually not an event they are talking about. Usually it is something that has gone wrong for the sport. Something to add to that fire of negativity surrounding the public perception of this sport.
An MMA enthusiast may think Griffin vs. Bonnar is the most important moment in the history of the sport. They may think Dana White
is alright, even if he does make mistakes.
To someone who doesn't care, when they hear MMA, they think of the enraged fighter running from police that they heard about. Or maybe the obscenity laden tirade of one of the sport's most recognizable figures.
For some reason, a guy like Dana White becomes a target. That reason is, of course, Mr. White himself; but that said, does he get front page attention when he puts on a fight card solely for our troops? Of course not.
Who cares if Dana is contributing to a cause that helps war veterans
with traumatic brain injuries recover and take back their lives. When is he going to screw up again? That's the real story.
Maybe he should make a mistake at one of those events so he can get mainstream media's attention on something more important in this sport than its mistakes. There truly is a lot of good emitting from the great people that make up MMA.
Shouldn't an event like Xtreme Couture's Xtreme Combat Weekend
warrant a sliver of attention? This is an event designed with the most honorable intention of supporting service men and women in need. It shows a side of MMA that is rarely seen by those masses who are so quick to judge.
The amateur fight promotion Tuff-N-Uff
is partnering up with Xtreme Couture to put on three days of paintball and a fight card to raise money for the cause. A Pirates Paradise in Mesquite Nevada is helping out by offering their facility as well.
These are noble efforts by important people in the MMA community. Randy Couture, anyone?
On another note, Jitz
Fighting Apparel donates proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project
. This is a company just getting started that has already prioritized paying back those who sacrificed for their country.
These companies and the people behind the scenes are mixed martial artists, or in some way involved in MMA. They represent this sport. This is real feel good stuff. Shouldn't people be hearing about it?
Not today, fight fans. It's just you in here reading this. Maybe if something really newsworthy—like a Dana tirade—took place, the big boys might tune in. Until then, it's up to MMA to do its own advertising. Word of mouth is the best way to make that happen.
Events like the ones mentioned, The Xtreme Combat Weekend, the efforts of Jitz to donate to those in need, Dana White and the UFC putting on The Fight for the Troops
; they all need to be talked about.
It is up to fight fans to talk about every positive issue this sport has to offer, because the competition is loading up and waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Never mind if some of boxing's most notable figures run their mouths rampant with derogatory remarks about gay porn, homosexuals, and tattooed skinheads when talking about MMA and its fans. Bob Arum
and Bernard Hopkins
deserve a pass, apparently. No one is putting their biased and inappropriate comments up on the front page for dissection, are they?
Let them slide, no big deal. Besides, mainstream media already crucified Dana White for similar disparaging comments and are exhausted from the witch hunt. Front page sporting news does not come easy.
As the sports reporting industry learns about MMA, like a small child playing with a computer, it will come to realize its potential. At first its confusing, with a lot of moving parts that they don't quite understand, and that glowing light—what is that?
Eventually, they will see its intricate inner workings, and the true beauty of its capabilities as a formidable component to their sport reporting worlds. By that time, the fight fans might have just taken over.