As I drag myself through the door of my house a little after one in the morning, back from a rousing night of fights in western Massachusetts, I realize one thing that is monumentally important to the sport of MMA: Small time MMA is the backbone of the entire MMA world.
As many of you reading now, I had once thought that Pride and the UFC and the big names in the business were the major part of the structure. As I watch and understand the intricacies of MMA more and more, I realize this presumption was erroneous.
Watching big time fighters like Kenny Florian, Danny and Joe Lauzon, Sean Gannon, and Sam Hoger come back to the roots of MMA inspired me.
This small auditorium which held maybe a little over 5,000 people, held the entire Sityodtong crew including Mark DellaGrotte, Renzo Gracie Jui Jitsu team Northeast, and Team Agression. Along with Hoger's Miletich team.
These are the biggest names in MMA today and all were in attendance. If that isn't an homage to the roots of the sport, I don't know what is.
This night of fights was billed as a night to signify Hoger's comeback, his re-establishment in the MMA world. This was definitely true. Hoger came out swinging and after 19 seconds his opponent could no longer continue. His kicks and punches were crisp and accurate.
Sure, Hoger weighed in at 250 a far cry from his days at 205 on the Ultimate Fighter, but he actually looked quicker and more conditioned than before, though his figure did not show it. He may be making some big ripples real soon.
Local legends also filled the auditorium, like owner of Smitty's Wrestling Barn Matt Smith, who won by guillotine choke, dominating his opponent with impeccable ground work.
Also, Bobby Diaz beat his opponent in an all out war by guillotine in the second round. The guillotine seemed to be the theme of the night. That and knockouts less than 30 seconds into a fight.
These few fighters are onlly a few examples of the millions of fighters that come up in very different environments that benefit from small time MMA. Small time MMA is often seen as lowly and nonsensical.
However, for real fans (the ones who aren't fans of Kimbo Slice and Chuck Liddell exclusively) and real fighters who know their roots, it is a mecca of MMA. A way to get back to the days when MMA asn't so trendy and when it was more of a sport that one had to love, not just be a casual fan.
With more and more people taking notice to the small time organizations such as WCF, more and more people realize its importance. Anytime a fighter needs to make a comeback confidence builder or a new up and comer needs to make a start, these organizations are there. It is the step which all, at one point or another, have to take.
So as an avid fan of MMA I have realized one of the more important truths one may know. Small time MMA will always have a place.