Mixed Martial Arts.
These three words have dramatically changed professional athletes whether the casual fans realizes it or not.
Once referred to as, "human cockfighting" by Senator John McCain in 1996, MMA has now become accepted by mainstream society. At the time, McCain actually petitioned the governors of nearly every state to attempt to get MMA barred.
Remember, this is a sport that was actually banned from being shown on pay—per—view. Let me repeat that. MMA was not allowed to be televised on the same channels that show pornography.
The MMA revolution began in 1985 with the Shooto organization, but the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) is responsible for bringing to bouts to the United States. UFC 1 took place on November 12, 1993.
After being taken off PPV, UFC President Dana White adapted in order to succeed. Fighters were divided into actual weight classes while also being forced to wear gloves. Other tactics such as hair pulling, eye gouging, head butts, small—joint manipulation, and groin strikes were deemed illegal.
Let's just say the changes worked. On July 11th, the UFC will celebrate their 100th pay—per—view event with perhaps the biggest card in the company’s history.
McCain said it himself in 2007 when being interviewed by NPR, "They have cleared up the sport to the point, at least in my view, where it is not human cockfighting anymore. I think they've made significant progress. They haven't made me a fan but they have made progress."
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Now, MMA is being overtaken by a different breed of athletes. No longer are only wrestlers and boxers attracted to the sport. Professional football players have gradually started taking notice of how tough and in shape the Mixed Martial Artists were that competed.
Arizona Cardinals' Quarterback Matt Leinart has been seen on Sportscenter recently discussing his new training methods. Leinart decided to take Fox Sports' Jay Glazier up on a recent offer to train with him to help him get ready for the upcoming season.
The last person to go and train with Jay Glazer was DE Jared Allen who lost 25 pounds prior to the 2007 season after training at Arizona Combat Sports. The result was Allen registering 65 tackles and a career—high 15.5 sacks.
Many other football players such as Brian Dawkins, Lorenzo Neal, and Jeff Ulbrich have used Mixed Martial Arts as their training methods to help prepare their mind and bodies for a long season.
The upcoming 10th season of the popular reality show on Spike TV, "The Ultimate Fighter" will feature four former NFL players who are attempting career changes. The winner of the contest will be rewarded with a six—figure contract with the UFC.
The most recognizable of the four would be former defensive end Marcus Jones, who spent eight seasons in the NFL after being drafted by the Buccaneers in the first round of the 1996 draft. The other three include former Giant Matt Mitrione, former Buffalo Bill Brendan Schaub, and former Falcon Wes Shiver.
Not all of the athletes who make the transition to MMA are as serious about their new career as some try and just hope remind everyone of the past fame.
Two weeks ago, former MLB slugger and steroid king Jose Canseco participated in a bout in Japan. After lasting past the opening minute, Cabseco eventually had to be saved from the fists of 7"3 Hong Man Choi. Many were surprised Canseco lasted as long as he did.
Some believe fights like the one with Canseco are an embarrassment to the sport while others think any sort of publicity is a good thing. With other organizations such as Strikeforce and UFC succeeding on a national level, the only thing known for sure is that the sport of MMA is here to stay. Just ask Jay Glazier.