MMA: A New Fan’s Perspective

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 by Tony Reid

So there I sat, at a small venue hosting a small organization MMA event in a very small town called Muncy in Pennsylvania.  It attracted 1,500 plus because it is the very first of its kind in this area. This is what people have been waiting for!  So there I sat awaiting the fights to start and there I was, watching each fight with excitement and enthusiasm.  Rolling my eyes at the over the top cocky guys who seemed to have lost the fight and wishing I could muffle every single boo heard in the arena.  Why you ask? Because I love the sport.  A 26 year old, beautiful, college-educated female, who spends her days in banking and spends some evenings and weekends watching and attending MMA events.   Knowing that each and every single guy inside that octagon has earned respect just for locking himself inside ready to throw down without reservation. Booing need not apply unless, you, yourself decide to step into that octagon and try to have half of the heart that these guys have.  A small event like this pays barely more than the hotel stay, if you win, great, it’s double the money and you can feed your family for a week.

I’ve never seen this sort of passion in any other sport than MMA.  This is coming from a girl who had seriously never heard of the sport until about three years ago. I was an avid, crazy Pittsburgh Steelers fan whose only sport-based focus was football. Haphazardly, I had never even watched Spike TV to see some of the televised events or repeats thus had no interest, knowledge or even a minute desire to ever become a fan of Mixed Martial Arts.  I was a fan of football, a great American pastime, where its championship game is known to be the most televised show every year.  So Mixed Martial Arts, huh…on Pay-Per-View , on Spike, on Versus?  What, sorry, never heard or seen it, no thanks!  I love football and I love my Steelers.

Fast forward to present, and given the opportunity to go to a MMA Event or go to a Steelers game, my beloved Steelers, and I’m gonna choose to go to the MMA event every time.  Now, I’ve had the opportunity of going to the some of best MMA events such as the UFC many of times, eight times to be exact so far, but even with seeing the best of the best, I can still appreciate the sport and enjoy going to smaller organizational events such as UCFC in Pittsburgh and VPI Fights in small-town Muncy.

But while I’m on the MMA bandwagon, let’s not lose sight of the fact that I was a born and bred a Steelers fan.  Growing up in the western part of PA not to far from the ‘Burgh, these are my roots; this is my first love affair with sports.  Am I a complete sellout? No.  I am just appreciating a different sport that is not at all comparable.  I respect that guys go in the cage man vs. man and the best man wins.  It’s not how well the team did, or do we blame it on the defense, the offense, the quarterback, or even the kicker?  Its how well the one guy did, he, all by himself has the opportunity to win the fight.  If it goes all three rounds or for sure all five rounds, you better hope he has great cardio because in this sport there are no substitutes for relief or injury.   The nice thing about MMA events is that the fighters, though they are professional, appreciate the fans, and are down to earth allowing you to grab a quick picture or autograph, even the ones who are making millions.  Most other sports and professional athletes wouldn’t even think of getting a picture with a random fan unless they were getting paid for it.  But some of the fighters (most in fact)  will actually thank you for being a fan, and that means a lot, especially to a girl who fought her way through crowds for years to grab a quick picture of her favorite quarterback, only to have him be a jerk about signing her stupid football.

But I’m a woman you say, probably can’t handle violence and gore all that well right? This isn’t the kind of sport a well-mannered girly girl watches….Well to that I say, it is! Because it’s not violent, not at all.  Mixed Martial Arts, is a sport of course, but shall I say, it is also an Art.  It is a competition of genuine skill, both mental and physical.  It is anyone’s fight every time especially because it is not always the bigger guy who wins.  Now if one man happens to be better in the fight than the other guy, mentally, physically, in skill, technique, or experience, sometimes violence happens.  Sometimes people are bruised, bleeding, and parts are broken.  But guess what, more football players go limping off the field in a quarter than fighters who can’t continue at an entire MMA event, which in most cases that rarely ever happens.  So which sport is more violent?  Men hitting each other with 15 pounds of padding and equipment on or the two men going at it with nothing but four ounce gloves on for protection?  I won’t be a judge here I’m just stating the facts because in sports in general, there are going to be injuries.

So there I sat inside this sports complex, an indoor soccer dome, properly set to accommodate an MMA event, and a small one at that.  And there I go, being interested in every single fight, and every single round because I’m sold!  I love this sport, but most of all I understand it enough now to have respect for it, to appreciate it.  And the more I continue to learn about it, the more I love it!