20 Things Every New UFC Fan Should Know About MMA
Growing up, I was not really into team sports. Being a shot put and discus thrower, these sports are geared more towards an individual's effort rather than team chemistry. That is probably why I drifted towards Mixed Martial Arts.
It's a sport in which success is solely based on what an individual is capable of doing when pressed to excel at the highest challenge.
If you're just getting into the amazing sport of Mixed Martial Arts, or even if you haven't checked out a UFC card in long time, then you honestly could not have picked a better time to get into it.
When you take into consideration all the developments which have taken place this year alone, it's enough to make even the most hardcore fan's head spin.
So with all the website, blogs and radio shows to choose from, you're probably wondering what is the basic knowledge you need to navigate around the sport?
Well, B/R MMA is here to school you on the 20 basic tidbits of information which will prove invaluable.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship Is King
Back in 1993, The Ultimate Fighting Championship was a rinky-dink promotion with bareley a penny to its name.
The whole premise of the elimination style format was to finally answer the question of which combat fighter would win in a single-night tournament format against other fighters from different disciplines.
In reality, it was really designed as a vehicle to promote Gracie Jiu Jitsu which is a ground-based style of martial art which employs a variety of chokes and joint locks in order to defeat one's opponent. Thanks to the Gracie Family's persistence, their point was proven and MMA was born.
At the start, the sport was literally a slight level above a street fight. There were no weight classes, no real rules, and barely any time limits.
Thanks to the purchase of the company by Zuffa back in 2001, the UFC got a fresh start. Through the careful yet deliberate guidance of UFC President Dana White and the Fertitta brothers, the promotion has reached heights of popularity and success that no other Mixed Martial Arts organization has yet replicate.
If you want to enjoy MMA with the highest level of production value, then you need to plunk down $60 and watch UFC 135 this weekend to see what it was all about.
Anderson Silva: He's the No. 1 Fighter in the Sport
Killer. Assassin. Champion.
These are the words which can easily be used to describe the UFC Middleweight Champion and consensus pound-for-pound king, Anderson "The Spider" Silva.
The man from Curitiba,Brazil made his UFC debut way back in 2006 against Chris Leben, and after utterly steamrolling him within the first round, he's laid a long trail of bodies leading to a current 14-fight win streak.
Keep in mind that two of those wins were in a heavier weight class when he dabbled with 205 and made fools of both of his opponents.
If you are still skeptical about how good this man is in the cage, watch him front face-kick Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 on his way to victory No. 13.
I still cringe at the thought.
Georges St-Pierre: He's the #No. 2 Fighter in the Sport
Let's be clear: UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St- Pierre is the best athlete and most well- rounded fighter in Mixed Martial Arts today.
He softens opponents up with his crisp striking before stunning them with a powerful double leg takedown and then takes their will by keeping them down on the mat for the majority of the fight.
So you might ask, why is he No. 2? Well, unlike Anderson Silva, St.-Pierre lacks the killer instinct to finish a fight. He would rather rely on his amazing athletic prowess to outclass opponents and grind out a win than to beat an opponent soundly.
Perhaps his upcoming matchup with Carlos Condit might force him to step his game up.
It's Pronounced HOY-CE
Understand that Royce Gracie is a legend in this sport. With his groundbreaking wins at UFC 1,2 and 4, Gracie set the stage for the mainstream fighters of today to begin their study of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
While his return to the Octagon at UFC 60 against Matt Hughes did not go exactly as he planned, you still cannot deny his influence on the sport.
If we were to use rapper equivalents, then Royce Gracie would easily be the RUN DMC to Anderson Silva's Jay-Z.
Attend a Live Show in Las Vegas
If you really want to get a feel for MMA, you must go to a live event. Once again, for your hard-earned money, the UFC has the best live show around, so I wouldn't really recommend going to anything else.
Once you've gone to a few shows near your hometown, I would highly recommend attending a UFC card in the sport's official hometown, Las Vegas.
Why Las Vegas? Well, do I really need to explain? Besides the overall tourism benefits that the city of Las Vegas provides on its own, the atmosphere is electrified during fight week.
Plus you get the added bonus of the card starting at 4 p.m. PST and ending around 9 p.m. so that gives you the rest of the night to go grab some grub, head back to your hotel room for a quick change of clothes and then fist pump the rest of the night away.
Follow Live Event Etiquette
As a follow-up from the previous slide, when you attend a live show, there is a specific protocol that you need to follow in order to ensure that you and your buddies or girlfriend have a good time. To borrow a great line from a great man:
"I been in this game for years, it made me an animal. It's rules to this s**t, I wrote me a manual. A step by step booklet for you to get your game on track, not your wig pushed back."
- Rule No. 1: Don't get drunk. Getting drunk at a sporting event, let alone a combat sport event, is just a recipe for disaster. By the main event, you'll think you're Rampage Jackson and pick a fight with the wrong dude who will probably light you up, and you'll get arrested. Not a good look. Plus, if you plunk down $100 to $300 bucks on a ticket, don't you want to actually have full use of all of your senses to enjoy the fight?
- Rule No. 2: Only move to and from your seat between rounds. Nothing irritates the people seated in your section more than you getting up in the middle of a crucial round in what amounts to a really great fight. Frankly, it's just rude. Oh and by the way, the same thing goes for your girl. Explain the rules to her and have her follow them as well.
- Rule No. 3: Do not yell profanities, boo or hiss if the fight goes the ground. It shows lack of knowledge or respect for the sport. These guys are working hard for a proper position in order either gain a submission attempt or prevent it. Show some respect.
- Rule No. 4: Remember that you are not a fighter. Just because you take a few boxing classes and lift weights doesn't mean that you can fight. No matter what, do not start a fight. These days, MMA affords even the most unassuming-looking guy the ability to have serious skills. If you go and pick a fight with the wrong guy, you could end up having your one-size-too-small Tap Out shirt stuffed down your throat.
- Rule No. 5: Fighters are people too. Be respectful of their time if you run into them and don't stalk them. Shake their hand, say it's nice to meet them and ask them if they wouldn't mind taking a picture. Most times, they will honor your request.
- Rule No. 6: Wear a T-Shirt in your size. You've seen the guy. He's spent too much time working on his bench press but has a gut the size of a watermelon, and then has the nerve to wear a super tight, glitter-laced Affliction-esque shirt. Don't be that guy.
Listen to Jordan Breen
As a newbie, learning the history of MMA is just as important as keeping current. Enter Jordan Breen.
Mr. Breen is a radio personality for a very popular MMA Website (which will not be promoted here, that's what Google is for, folks), and is just about the most knowledgeable and insightful journalist to speak on the subject.
Do yourself a favor and dedicate a few hours each week listening to his podcasts while you simultaneously read the latest and greatest MMA news right here on Bleacher Report MMA.
Within a few weeks, you will have your knowledge down pat.
Train Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai
What better way to truly appreciate the difficulty in what Anderson Silva pulled off against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 than to try to pull of a Triangle Armbar on someone yourself?
With training comes understanding, and with understanding comes respect, and ultimately that's what the sport is all about.
The UFC on Fox Is a Good Thing for the Sport
Recently, the UFC signed a multi-year deal with media powerhouse Fox Sports. What does that mean for you? Well, many great things:
- Four free UFC events per year.
- These cards will feature the best possible matches to ensure that Mixed Martial Arts is properly displayed to the mainstream.
- An increased level of acceptance for the sport which will lead to legalization nationwide ( I am looking at you, New York).
Strikeforce and Bellator Are Decent Secondary MMA Options
With MMA growing in leaps an bounds year over year, the UFC is constantly airing content almost weekly now.
However, during those rare times that there isn't a UFC event on, you can always turn your eyes to other brands such as the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce and Bellator Fighting Championships—the latter following a weekly tournament format.
While Strikeforce's production value and matchups have vastly improved since Zuffa took over, Bellator is beginning to get with the program when it comes to producing a good broadcast for both hardcore and regional fans alike.
Season 14 of the Ultimate Fighter Will Be the Best Season Yet
The Ultimate Fighter is a competition-based reality show which debuted on Spike TV in 2005. This was primarily a vehicle for the then-struggling UFC to gain some mainstream media attention.
Within its first season, the show set the tone for the many seasons that followed particularly in the final championship fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.
This fight provided the spark which galvanized the growth of not only the UFC, but MMA as a sport in general.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the UFC has parted ways with Spike TV by signing with Fox, so this current season of TUF will be the last to air on Spike, and in my opinion will be one of the best ever.
Featuring the newly inducted weight classes of 145 and 135 pounds, these guys are fast, explosive and keep a marathon runner's pace, which makes for fantastic fights.
Do yourself a favor and tune in.
Brock Lesnar Sells Pay-Per-Views
You may recognize Brock Lesnar from his days in professional wrestling. Lesnar is an Olympic-caliber athlete. He's a blend of massive size, speed and strength.
Each time that Brock fights in the main event of a UFC card, it means big money. Starting with UFC 91, each Lesnar headlined card has managed to break the one-million mark with regards to pay-per-view purchases.
If he can stay healthy and improve his ability to take a punch, you can expect to see an increase in pay-per-view buys as the UFC grows in popularity.
Current Weight Classes
Under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, which are the rules that govern the sport in general, there are nine weight classes:
- Flyweight - 125 pounds
- Bantamweight - 135 pounds
- Featherweight - 145 pounds
- Lightweight - 155 pounds
- Welterweight - 170 pounds
- Middleweight - 185 pounds
- Light Heavyweight - 205 pounds
- Heavyweight - 265 pounds
- Super Heavyweight - Over 265 pounds
The UFC currently houses the Bantamweight through Heavyweight classes with the Bantam and Feather being added just this year. Odds are that the Flyweight class will be added over the next three to five years with Super Heavyweights probably just being regulated to freak-show fights which take place in other fight promotions overseas.
Women's MMA Is Dying
It pains me to say this, but with Zuffa's acquisition of longtime competitor Strikeforce earlier this year, the MMA community all but agrees that the moment Strikeforce's television deal with Showtime expires next year, Zuffa will close up shop and absorb the top fighters into the UFC.
What this means is that women's MMA will probably be put out to pasture. UFC President Dana White has been adamant about his stance against seeing women fight in the cage. Not only for the fact that the thought of women hitting each other in the face repulses him, but from a business standpoint, there just isn't enough depth within the Welterweight (135) and Middleweight (145) to put on good cards.
What will most likely happen is that women still looking to participate in the sport will have to fight overseas.
Fedor, Randy and Chuck Are Now Considered MMA Old-School
Just like rap music, MMA has gone through phases:
THE EARLY YEARS
You have the pioneers like Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. They fought at the very early stages of the sport and really dealt with a lack of structure and organization. You also had the way that MMA was forced into an underground culture due to political grandstanding and pressure from activist groups.
THE GOLDEN AGE
From the debut of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005 till UFC 100 in 2009. Mixed Martial Arts has experienced a massive surge in growth over that five-year span. From increased media attention to key sponsorship deals for top fighters, this era represented the type of MMA that most fans who are new to the sport recognize.
Fighters like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddlell and even Fedor Emelianenko thrived during this era, but now their time has come to retire and move on from the sport. Their contributions are always to be honored and respected.
THE NEW AGE
2011 starts a new era within MMA. With the recent Fox Sports deal and social media being used more and more to get fans more access to the sport, this era will see great leaps in mainstream notoriety for the sport.
Jon, Jose, Benson, Showtime and Rory Are the Leaders of the New School
As we enter the new era, young fighters coming into the sport are more well-rounded, more media-savvy and have been watching Mixed Martial Arts since they were toddlers.
It's really exciting to think about the types of innovative moves which will be used in the cage by these young guns.
Dana White Is the Face of MMA Business
Dana White is the boss. Period. He's the perfect example of what happens when you take an excited combat sports fan who has great business sense and give him the reins of a fight promotion.
His passion for the sport is infectious, and you can't deny his ability to listen to the fans and work towards giving them the fights they want to see.
Lorenzo Fertitta Is the Money Man
While Dana White is the day-to-day media face, majority co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta plays a heavy role behind the scenes leveraging major deals and keeping the operations moving.
Joe Silva Makes the Matchups
While he may be small in stature, Joe Silva has one of the biggest roles in MMA as matchmaker for the UFC.
Catching Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson this weekend? You can thank Joe Silva for that.
MMA Is More Accessible Than Ever
10 years ago, you would be lucky to catch one MMA event a month due to the lack of regular availability. Now we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to MMA content.
From streaming Facebook fights via the UFC to The Ultimate Fighter on basic cable, to even the weekly news show on ESPN, MMA Live, there is no reason not to be able to catch your favorite fighters in action.