New York, NY - Saturday's NYFEST, New York City's first Film & Entertainment Soccer Tournament, was an event full of wonderful and uncanny surprises—including MMA legend Anderson Silva.
With the weather mostly horrific for the day, soccer fans as well as the competing teams unitedly endured and braved through the weather for charity. Due to their participation, the event raised $25,000 for underprivileged children who are affiliated with nonprofit organizations that provide soccer-based programs.
One of the individuals present was none other than the current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. He was there to participate as a player in the NYFEST Celebrity Match.
Silva represented the Home Team, where he was teamed up with Ritchie Williams, Steve Nash, John O'Brien, Tab Ramos, Ethan Zahn, John McEnroe, Andrew Shue and Claudio Reyna.
While it's understandable that current/former athletes such as Steve Nash, John McEnroe, Claudio Reyna and Tab Ramos were recognized, I was puzzled by the number of people present who didn't know who Anderson Silva was. Here you have possibly the best fighter in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and majority of the people in attendance didn't recognize him.
In soccer terminology, Anderson Silva is the Pelé of Mixed Martial Arts. There is no one better than him in his weight class, as he's literally cleaned house in the Middleweight Division.
If I was covering MMA instead of soccer, Saturday's event would have been the perfect time to get a brief one-on-one interview with Anderson Silva and his agent Ed Soares. Both men were easily approachable and open for questions.
While I didn't ask Anderson any MMA-related questions, I learned that he's a fan of Pelé and he was glad to be in New York City for this event. One thing cool that was cool about my interaction with Silva was the bear hug he gave me when I told him that he's one fighter I enjoy watching.
I found my conversation with Ed Soares to be insightful. Despite the numerous calls and texts he was receiving, he was extremely polite throughout our conversation. We talked about Black House and the similarities of soccer/MMA in the United Stated. He also informed they were also in town for the Tribeca Film Festival screening of Anderson Silva's documentary, Like Water.
I understand Saturday's NYFEST was a soccer event, but living in the United States, the majority of us follow multiple sports year-round. Along with that, we have an idea who the superstars are in each sport.
The fact that an MMA documentary was part of the Tribeca Film Festival further demonstrates how mainstream MMA has become nationwide.
Despite what our leaders in Albany may want to believe, New York is a Mixed Martial Arts state. I live in the city, so I have an idea of the number of academies that specialize in MMA. Having trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), I'm aware of the number of BJJ tournaments that annually take place within the Tri-State Area.
Every time there's been a press conference hosted by either the UFC or Strikeforce (prior to being purchased by the UFC), fan turnout has been astronomical. Whenever there's been a PPV card, bars throughout the this city have been filled to their maximum capacity.
One organization that's been doing their part in addressing the importance of bringing MMA to New York is Bring MMA to NY. If you go to their website, you will see the excellent fact kits that they've created to assist MMA fans such as yourselves in your efforts to help bring Mixed Martial Arts to New York.
If you have haven't so already, please do your part and spread the word so the the folks in Albany will eventually sanction Mixed Martial Arts in our great state.
For more information please go to: www.mmafacts.com
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He's also a Columnist for USSoccerPlayers.com, your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.