Today we have a guest post by Virginia Cunningham on the rise of Mixed Martial Arts over the past ten years. Enjoy.
The Rise of MMA In The Past 10 Years
Beginning with the influence of Bruce Lee and the early brutality of the Gracies’ version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts (MMA) has come a long way in the United States.
It has become both a valued spectator sport and an athletic phenomenon, giving rise to a variety of training methodologies and reshaping the way that many of us characterize “being in shape” or exercising.
A Little History
In 2001, Zuffa LLC, a sports marketing and promotion company, purchased the rights to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for $200,000.
They established rules and guidelines for fights and obtained a Nevada Athletic Commission Sanctioning that eventually put the sport back on pay per view and in front of the public eye.
Under the Gracies family no-holds-barred style of fighting, the UFC was just far too brutal for television. While popular, it wasn’t sustainable until Zuffa took over and made it more of an athletic event than a drummed up violence expo.
This was the beginning of MMA’s rise to popularity, particularly in the United States, as it would eventually eclipse the revenue earnings of both professional boxing and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2006.
The Ultimate Fighter reality show that aired on Spike in 2005 was undoubtedly a large piece of that financial puzzle.
It was the type of fighting that 80’s and 90’s kids had always wanted -- exciting, real and far different from the boxing matches their dad’s and granddad’s used to watch.
Not only does the UFC attract a strong male fan base, but with a recent increase in the number of female fighters participating, women are becoming increasingly interested in the sport, increasing its popularity all the more.
In addition to MMA being just plain fun to watch, a lot of the appeal of the sport in recent years has come from the effect that it has had on our exercise routines.
Particularly with women becoming more and more interested in fitness and contact sports, the MMA training programs have found their way into many of our own gyms, fitness classes, exercise programs and even blogs.
In simple terms, MMA training focuses on multiple muscle groups, functional movements and high intensity training, which combine both strength training and cardio, as opposed to separating the two.
So now, instead of just trying to burn calories and build mass, this type of training allows us to engage in a kind of “hybrid” of the two, that many believe is a far more effective way to exercise.
Add this to the fan base that certain fighters have amassed, the fierce and vocal rivalries between popular combatants of both genders, and you’ve got yourself one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
What might be an even more powerful draw of the sport, is if you consider the combination of the influence on how we exercise and the fascination of the sport itself.
Let’s be honest -- we all want to be able to fight and defend ourselves. Somehow that makes all of the mundane tasks of our daily lives a little more acceptable. Sure, we might be comfortable working a desk job, but we still want to be able to throw down if we have to. It’s possible that MMA has given us a powerful illustration of that and allows us to tap into a bit of our own inner strength.
That, and it’s a great excuse to get together and eat wings.
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer and health enthusiast in the Los Angeles area. Writing for NorthWest has allowed her to not only share her knowledge of personal health and fitness, but she has also been able to explore new options for her fitness routines, including mixed martial arts.