Getting new people into MMA and teaching them about the sport is easy if you do it right.
How do you do it right? You show them the right fights.
Of the thousands of MMA fights there are dozens upon dozens that can be shown to a non-MMA fan in order to convert them over to the light side of the force.
Converting fans has special relevance in light of the UFC's nearing debut on FOX. It'll be important to give the new "recruits" a proper grounding in what the sport means and what a good fight is.
What are some of the best MMA fights to illustrate key points as well as entertain? Read and find out!
If you're dealing with someone who has no idea what MMA or even grappling is, show them this fight.
Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson teaches the fundamental lesson that the American martial arts world was (and some would say still is, for the most part) ignorant of: Ground-fighting/grappling is real fighting and knowing it is necessary for success.
No boxer could contend with a skilled grappler, Royce Gracie vs. Art Jimmerson shows this fact. The fight also gives the prospective fan a grounding in MMA history, since it took place at the very first UFC event.
Why show Gracie dominating but then show him getting dominated?
Seeing Royce Gracie, the man who effortlessly dispatched hapless striker after hapless striker, get humbled so badly is a perfect fight to show new fans how the sport evolved out of it's first phase (style vs. style) into its second phase (fighters who excelled in one aspect in fighting but were proficient in the others).
This fight will also acquaint new fans with UFC legend Matt Hughes.
Either of Matt Hughes' losses to current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre will finish the lesson about the evolution of MMA.
The sport started with style versus style (Gracie), then moved to fighters who had one discipline as a mainstay but cross-trained in the others (Hughes), and then finally fighters like St-Pierre who excelled in every aspect of fighting took over the sport.
New fans (as well as old ones) need to know that there was another outlet for MMA in the early 1990's besides the UFC.
It was a Japanese organization known as Pancrase. It was where Ken Shamrock earned his fame before even stepping foot in the Octagon.
The third battle between Dutch superstar Bas Rutten and Jason Delucia is one of Pancrase's best fights to show those new to MMA because it showcases the unique rules and atmosphere of the organization, it's exciting, it shows what Rutten was like in his prime, and it ends with a ruptured liver!
New fans need to learn about Pride Fighting Championships, lest the MMA world eventually forgets about it!
There aren't many fights that match the importance sheer epic scale of Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic; it was the No. 1 heavyweight in the world versus the No. 2 heavyweight in the world.
Not only will this fight entertain a new fan and get them to want to watch more MMA, it'll teach them about who Fedor Emelianenko was and that Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic was actually an incredible fighter before his sad last days in the UFC.
New fans may not be able to appreciate the importance of Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, but it's a fun fight to watch and an important part of MMA history for them to experience (albeit after it's already happened).
Both Liddell and Silva have several other fights that are just as exciting, but this fight was essentially the last fight where each legend was at his best, making it mean that much more.
Of all the fights to choose, why this one? To show that appearances can be deceiving; the more threatening looking fighter doesn't always win!
Kimbo Slice was a muscular, bearded, scary-looking fighter and Seth Petruzelli was a less muscular fighter with tufts of pink hair and a tramp stamp.
If you asked new fans to pick who would win based on appearances only (which is how those uneducated on MMA usually pick fights anyway), almost all of them would've pick Slice.
Learning that appearances and muscles don't count for as much as conventional "wisdom" dictates is an important lesson to teach.
This fight could easily be replaced with Todd Duffee vs. Mike Russow but Slice-Petruzelli is also important because it dispels any notion a new fan might have that Slice is/was actually a top-level fighter.
It would be a crime to not educate someone new to the sport about women's MMA.
There are several great women's fights to show, but Gina Carano vs. Christiane "Cyborg" Santos takes the cake because it's the most high-profile women's fight in the history of women's MMA.
Two words: Showtime Kick.
This fight may not demonstrate some profound axiomatic truth about fighting, but it's certainly fun to watch and has one of the most epic moves ever pulled of in the cage.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Any newcomer to the sport needs to be educated on Anderson Silva, arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the history of MMA.
What's more satisfying than seeing an underdog succeed before your very eyes? Nothing.
That is why Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III is such an excellent fight to show a prospective MMA fan.
In addition to teaching the lesson of "it's not over 'till it's over" due to Edgar's incredible comeback, it also shows that size doesn't always matter. Despite being the inferior physical specimen, Edgar pulled through and knocked out Maynard.
Passionate fans may be questioning the choices I've made but keep in mind that the question of which fights to show new fans has already been covered in a previous slideshow.
Some fights are absolute classics and cannot avoid being repeated, but there were other fights not mentioned last time that are worth showing new fans.
You may not like some of the choices made in this slideshow, but each one of the fights mentioned can help to educate and entertain. You can't ask for more than that.