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MMA's Future and Its Fighters: Why It Needs Worldwide Expansion

DENGFENG, CHINA - APRIL 12:  Warrior monks of the Shaolin Temple display their Kung Fu skills at the Songshan Mountain near the temple April 12, 2005 in Dengfeng, Henan Province, China. Shaolin Temple, built in AD 495 in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581) and located in the Songshan Mountain area, is the birthplace of Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin Kung Fu, with its incredible strength, vitality and flexibility, is expecting to be included in the UNESCO intangible heritage list. (Photo by Cancan Chu/Getty Images)
Cancan Chu/Getty Images
Pedro SilvaContributor IMarch 31, 2010

 

Mixed Martial Arts are entering a new era. Ten years have passed since what was an obscure sideshow started to become a real sport. We've gone from showdowns to find out which is the best martial art into having MMA as a martial art in itself. And that has obviously reflected on the fighters, no longer just gurus in their martial art of choice, but real fighting machines, competitive wherever the fight takes place.

And now what? With ticket and pay-per-view revenues going through the roof as well as sold out arenas, what's next for MMA? There is an obvious path that concerns the promotions, with UFC currently as the head leader, and their business and expansion strategies, which I'm not going to discuss here (plus, here's a great article with more on that).

Instead, I'm going to focus on fighters. So far, there are a few regions of the world where fighters are mainly coming from: North America; Brazil; Japan; Russia and UK. Being that this last one is already a result of MMA's growth, the increasing popularity needs to take the sport to new audiences, and as a result, bring into MMA a new breed of fighters. In particular, three regions need to put their men on the map: Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania.

These regions are historically known for breeding fierce warriors over the centuries. As much as the Western society has assimilated local tribes almost everywhere, the identity of these ethnic groups has always been very much present in their everyday life, passed with pride from generation to generation. With the right training, we could see some really exciting cage fighters emerging from all of these places. One example that comes to mind is that of the Maori warriors. Not only they had a relentless mindset when it came to war, they have the genetic build of giants. I'd love to see a man with the physique of rugby union's great Jonah Lomu being trained to become a cage fighter.

The Maori were just an example, and actually the one that made me think more about this subject. Bottom line, with MMA's growth and increasing popularity, promotions need to actively expand their borders more and more, not only to get more audiences - thus, more profit - but also to get a bigger variety of fighters.

Only time will tell, but it's my opinion that MMA in five years will be much more exciting than it is right now, mostly due to its expansion.

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