UFC: Human cockfighting or widespread ignorance?

Recently, the state of New York has clarified and reassessed legislation that made Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), more specifically the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) an illegal activity at an ama

Recently, the state of New York has clarified and reassessed legislation that made Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), more specifically the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) an illegal activity at an amateur and professional level in 1997. Having viewed several clips from sources, then Senator John McCain began his countrywide campaign to ban what he famously deemed “Human Cockfighting”. From this, a sport was constructed. Fighter safety, athletic regulation, new management of the UFC (the Zuffa Corporation, headed by Dana White) as well as a slow emergence of an evolving form of competition led “extreme fighting” to become the world’s fastest growing sport.

Within this context, the validity of MMA as a sport has become all too relevant, with the state of New York, firmly established as MMA’s capstone of acceptance into the mainstream now reassessing their stance on the sport, perhaps the public should cast their own analysis as well. Sporting fans know of the intrigue a high paced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu based match can be, yet many still associate MMA as something like a street fight, an unfortunate and lasting reminder of the sport’s chequered beginnings.

These beginnings were just that, beginnings, thanks to a select few who dominated the early UFC events utilising styles considered to be broad and effective, particularly Royce Gracie, Dan Severn who utilised pure grappling techniques, which would be superseded by the likes of Ken Shamrock and Bas Rutten who would utilise kickboxing and ultimately develop strategies to incorporate a stand up and ground element. 

These men are the sport’s initial flare. Take away the nonsense of men wearing boxing gloves and Karate Gi’s in the ring, strip it back and what do you have? You have notable athletes at the top of their respective disciplines who are evolving to meet new ideas and form effective strategies for victory. Whilst reserved for the staunch and hardcore of MMA’s fans, these fights serve an important framing device for the first cycle of the sport: the initial idea that one style was not better than the other—that achievement would come from innovation.

Innovation is a key word within this niche, as one of the sport’s most endearing friendships would result into a global brand. Dana White, a kickboxing gym owner and local Las Vegas Promoter would seek his childhood friends Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta to purchase the fledgling brand, creating the Zuffa corporation that would begin an aggressive campaign of acceptance by athletic councils and associations, in doing so allowing a credibility to the sport that would allow the limelight to be shed on emerging talent.

In what would be deemed the Zuffa Era, MMA would explode onto the U.S market, the reality show The Ultimate Fighter showcasing what types of individuals would choose this as a means of living, the results were overwhelmingly positive. Future stars such as Forrest Griffin and Kenny Florian would emerge from the show, with the main events of the increasingly surging UFC be dominated by stars such as Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, men who utilised two types of styles such as Liddell complimenting his kickboxing heavy style with his knowledge as a collegiate wrestler to dictate the fight and keep it standing, where he would be most comfortable.

Pound for Pound great Anderson Silva, a true genius within the realm of Mixed Martial Arts proved what technique and competency could achieve, whilst reigning Welterweight Champion George St Pierre would showcase how dominating an enhanced awareness in athletic development whilst maintaining proficiency in every aspect of the game.

When exploring each individual art used within context of MMA, the vast strides made by Roufusport product Anthony Pettis in terms of what can be achieved creatively from someone transitioning from Tae Kwon Do as a child to combining grappling kickboxing and Muay Thai to create not only a well-rounded arsenal, yet one that has become the darling of highlight reels due to Pettis’ versatility and creativity within the cage. The Showtime Kick remains his greatest weapon and showcased what ingenuity of traditional techniques combined with a modern setting could truly do.

Now as fans we are exploring the third ring of development, where fighters are trained exclusively in MMA. UFC on Fox 5 highlighted the passing of this torch, with twenty three year old Rory Macdonald using shockingly accurate strikes and grappling techniques, all learned in unison, to dismantle and potentially retire B.J. Penn, one of the sports early celebrities.

“Cage Fighting” is a moniker bred by tabloid media, evoking the bygone era of wild aggression and struggling talent. Now what can be gleamed from the sport is a platform not only for personal and athletic development, but the constant remoulding of the most exciting combat sport on the world stage.

What do you think of the UFC? Is it a viable sport? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.