For a sport like Mixed Martial Arts—a sport that still struggles to gain acceptance and has a history mired in poor practices and perceptions—the evolution to improve is paramount. Much improvement has been made over almost two decades of evolution.
What was once was a ruthless blood sport with few rules has now become a regulated, regimented, organized world class sport. That world class reputation is found in the history of technique, competition, the presentation and, most importantly, the athlete.
The evolution of the athlete has been crucial to the progress of a sport like MMA. Nowhere is the evolution of MMA more apparent than it is with today's mixed martial artist. The fighter of today has grown up with the sport, studied its champions and implemented their own evolutions to make not only themselves better, but the sport as well.
Any MMA fan already knows these facts. They have watched it grow and improve before their eyes. Those that don’t know may never know. Either through lack of interest or through moral adversity with the sport as a whole, some may never get to know the quality found in MMA.
Changing perceptions amongst uninterested parties and those who may criticize the sport becomes an extremely uphill battle. This is especially apparent in New York where MMA is still in the heat of battle trying to have the sport legalized for promotion.
So, when a credible source puts their best foot forward and plays a hand in providing a platform for MMA to showcase its quality of competition—and the athlete that becomes the catalyst for that—the opportunity becomes invaluable. Not just for the individual, but for everyone involved in the process.
The instances are few and far between unfortunately.
A glaring example would be when Roger Huerta became the first MMA athlete to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. That was quite an accomplishment for both Huerta and the sport.
This April, another highly reputable publication features a mixed martial artist on their cover—providing some in depth perception of his theories and his routines. The publication is Men's Health Magazine, and the fighter is UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre.
This is another glaring example of a reputable publication like Men's Health taking note of the quality of not just the sport, not just the athlete, but also the practices employed by both.
Georges St-Pierre is a great ambassador for the sport. GSP is one of many fighters who exemplify everything that is right with MMA. Equally, he discredits the negative ideas that some have been convinced run rampant across the sport.
His differentiation between being a fighter and a martial artist is a great example.
“There is a difference between a fighter and a martial artist," GSP told Men's Health. " A fighter is training for a purpose: He has a fight. I’m a martial artist. I don’t train for a fight. I train for myself. I’m training all the time. My goal is perfection. But I will never reach perfection.”
St-Pierre is articulate and well spoken. He is confident yet humble, kind yet ruthless and everything a champion prize fighter should be. He talks the talk, but more importantly, walks the walk. And as he is walking, his journey has led him to a much higher path.
His accomplishments and the methods with which he achieved them have raised the bar for everyone involved in MMA. His display of superiority has set a tone that will be studied and mimicked for a very long time.
"Rush," as he is also known, broke the mold and then absolutely decimated it. He has redefined an entire generation of competitors. In turn, he has single handedly changed the future of the sport.
To have such an amazing representation of MMA featured on the cover of Men's Health is quite an eye opener for many on the outside looking in. If there was one guy MMA needed to showcase the high quality of the sport, GSP is that man on every level.
According to the interview, his philosophy on fighting is that “it’s like life. The more knowledge you get, the more questions you ask. The smarter you get, the more you realize that everything can be possible.”
Men's Health went behind the scenes with the champ for his title defense against Josh Koscheck. Spending a lot of time with him, Luke O'Brien got familiar with the man called “Rush.” O'Brien watched him execute a flawless game plan against a dangerous challenger.
The article states GSP later told O'Brien, “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake”
Featured in the April issue under the Celebrity Health section, GSP gives incredible insight. He shares how he sees not only his own position in MMA, but theories about the sport as a whole.
With a very extensive look at his pre-fight routine, all the way to post fight habits, Men's Health studies the champ and what makes a physical specimen like him tick.
They paint the picture of a dangerous predator, but a predator on the cutting edge of evolution.
And evolution, fight fans, is exactly what this sport is all about.
It is a great opportunity for non-MMA fans to get a great look at the type of man an MMA world champion can be. And it doesn’t take them watching a fight to get that look.
It may not seem important. After all it is just one interview. But the more opportunities like this that the sport gets, the more people may come to realize that this is not a bunch of knuckle-dragging neanderthals. Georges St-Pierre can hold his own with any world class athlete on this planet—more than hold his own.
He is MMA.
He is the type of guy than can beat stereotypes and help this sport gain the respect it deserves.
So, to see the UFC Welterweight Champion and Men's Health team up to share that message is great news.
All quotes courtesy of Men's Health Magazine
To see a behind the scenes video of Georges St-Pierre's cover shoot, please visit Hurtsbad MMA and select the original version of this article.