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MMA: “State of the Nation”

Within the past decade or so, the term ‘MMA’ (Mixed-Martial Arts) has practically become a familiar household name, this is due mainly to mainstream organizations like the juggernaut; Ultimate Fighting Championships. The hugely successful UFC, along with its parent company; Zuffa (LLC), has become a dominating multi-million dollar business thanks not only to the publics ever-growing interest in MMA, but also because of the foresight and persistence of its highly visible President Dana White. White, feeling that the UFC is still a long way from becoming mainstream, has said, “We’re pushing forward and trying to make this bigger every year. We’re not sitting around patting ourselves on the back saying that 2007 was great. We’re already working on what we’re going to do in 2009. We’re getting there. The sport and the athletes were denied for so long and we got to the point where it couldn’t be denied anymore. Like I always say, we look at this thing in the long term. We’re not like most boxing promoters who have tunnel vision, thinking it’s all about the here and now or how much money can I make off it. The UFC is investing into the future of this sport. We’re scouring the earth to find the greatest talent in the sport and we’re doing everything we can to get them into the UFC to provide them good exposure. That’s what we do; we build stars and put on good fights.”

The UFC has even been aggressively purchasing the rights to other well-regarded MMA promotional companies, such as the Pride Fighting and the short-lived WFA, among others. Some procrastinators complain that this attempt at a monopoly may limit the overall pool of worthy competitors; however, many argue that the UFC has the right to seek out and fairly buy all of the competing companies they wish, providing that the prospects agree to sell their shares willingly for the right price.

Still, a myriad of smaller and lower financed MMA organizations are popping up almost overnight all across the world! There seems to be no end to it as the Mixed-Martial Arts train keeps on rolling along and gaining more steam. Due to the public’s unyielding fascination, the industry has become a giant billion dollar business within only these past few years.

“A Changing of Tides…”

As evidence of the increased revenues being generated by the MMA industry, in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, many casinos are often ablaze with high-dollar wagers being placed on the outcomes of the top televised fights, even out producing most of the formally more high stakes boxing matches there. More MMA merchandise is consistently on the rise too. Nowadays, it appears that local martial arts supply stores seem to display and sell more of the popular MMA clothing lines, featuring today’s favorite championship fighters, than they do their actual standard training gear.

Many parents now report that their kids no longer show any interest in joining the still more accessible local street-corner classical martial arts training schools, such as Tae Kwon Do or Karate, and are begging them to be allowed to enroll into a slightly more comprehensive MMA “Youth Program”.

Many slumping traditional martial arts schools, after witnessing the turning of tides in the industry, have now gotten themselves aboard and shifted gears in order to cash in on the rise of MMA. They’ve wisely switched up or added new Mixed-Martial Arts classes within their weekly schedules in an earnest attempt to capitalize on the publics changing interests, or…are hacking away at it in order to simply enable their schools to survive the changing times!

2007 even marked the induction of its first ever large scale MMA (NAMMAE) Convention, which successfully took place in Anaheim, California, USA. This landmark event was a huge undertaking for its promoters, who have claimed that it indeed reached its estimated mark. The turnout was big and the public response was favorable along with the participating merchant vendor’s sales numbers. Because of this, there will be a second NAMMAE to be held again in Anaheim this July of 2008!

“Looking into the Past…”

Although some die hard fans feel that the legendary Bruce Lee was the catalyst of modern ‘Mixed-Martial Arts’ after actually coining that term way back in the 1960’s, its clear that today’s big MMA stars have brought it directly into the public eye via Cable-television and through the internet in a way that Bruce Lee could never have predicted. Some of the remaining original students of Lee’s have stated that they believe that Bruce himself would be very happy and excited if he was still here today and able to witness what has evolved within the Mixed-Martial Arts community, saying he’d probably have somehow gotten himself involved in its growth. After all, many do not know that Lee had told a student of his that he’d planned to put on one of the very first Mixed-Martial Arts events ever in Los Angeles, California; circa 1969-1970. However, he soon returned to Hong Kong to begin filming one of the first of his popular movies and decided to drop those plans entirely. It was long after Bruce Lee’s untimely demise when interested parties finally began to pick up on the possibly of Mixed-Martial Arts competitions becoming a real money-making vehicle.

One may wonder, would today’s MMA have reached its current level of popularity if there was no Cable-television or Pay-Per-View access to actively put these types of fighting events so directly onto a TV screen in the comfort of your own home? Would it have continued its rapid growth like it has without the use of a computer and the internet to readily seek it out? These questions may now be considered redundant as the ever-increasing rise in Mixed-Martial Arts’ profile has reached near epic proportions!

“Looking into the Future…”

Although, nowadays, the MMA industry has secured itself a solid “foot-hold” on its future, it is somewhat understandable that upon the debut of the UFC, because of its original “No-Holds-Barred” format, lack of distinctive rules, clearly undefined weight-classes or even the absence of standard regulations, the bouts were indeed more violent and bloody at times. This may have generated much more opposition from certain sanctioned governing parties from state to state. Be that as it may, there will always be those steadfast critics who are ‘trigger happy’ enough to voice their negative opinions, which now seem to have become stifled by the hysteria generated by the many devoted fans of the sport. Although those few remaining conservative entities are still refusing to back down from their opposing point of view towards what they are calling “barbaric” or overly brutal competitions, evidently, one cannot deny what the majority of supporters and fans of the sport undoubtedly desire…they want their MMA!

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