When I was an adolescent, there was one thing that always drew my attention in the Blockbuster. It was that “Youth Restricted Viewing” sticker. For those of you who grew up in the same era I did, you know what I’m talking about. So when I was visiting my dad, UFC was always one of those “YRV” things I’d get him to try and watch with me.
I cut my teeth on the early UFC. Joe Son getting continuously punched in the groin. Dan Severn putting somebody in a hold for forever. Pete deciding he was going to fight in UFC instead of marrying Monica. (Yes, that was a “Friends” reference.) Those were some of my early memories of UFC.
Then Dana White and the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC. We were given a rebranded UFC with Spike TV. New names rose to super-stardom like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz & Randy Couture. It evolved to a higher class sport with a whole different following. And of course the coming of Ultimate Fighter changed MMA even further (especially the Bonnar/Griffin fight).
There are things that I like about UFC/MMA as compared to other sports.
1. Sportsmanship-I love the irony that in one of the most violent sports on the Earth, there is probably more sportsmanship than any other sport. The fight begins with touching gloves. After it’s done, it’s rare that you don’t see the two hug it out afterwards. In an era when bench-clearing brawls are common-place in baseball, a hockey player is measured by his penalty minutes and players fight their own managers in dugouts, it’s refreshing to see guys hug it out after a long, hard-fought battle.
2. Class-I’ve only had the privilege to see one live UFC event in my life, 103 (Thanks, Dad.). I have seen a lot of live acts in my life: Black Eyed Peas, Neil Diamond, all 4 major sports teams in Dallas/Fort Worthm, WWE numerous times, and one of the highlights of my life-Gallagher. But I can tell you that without a doubt, the biggest bang for my buck was UFC 103. The people in attendance are a very high class. Yes, they were drunk and you could cut the testosterone with a knife. But there was respect and courtesy. There were plenty of fighters who were down on the floor. They spent time getting their pictures taken, talking to fans. Tito Ortiz spent his time talking to the fans (as did Jenna Jameson). Dana White was treated like Justin Bieber would be in a crowd of 13-year-old girls, except the crowd was full-grown men. When Brock Lesnar went off on the sponsors at UFC 100, Dana took him into a room and ripped him a new one. Jesse Taylor was one fight away from winning the Ultimate Fighter 7 until he had a drunken incident in Las Vegas and was removed from the show. When Antonio Minotauro Nogueira was out of his rematch with Frank Mir at UFC 119, the UFC was going to put somebody equal, if not better, in the fight against Mir. They decided on Mirko Cro Cop, who was equal, if not better. The company exudes class.
3. Understanding new technology- I have a background in wrestling (watching it/following it, not actually working in the ring). The wrestling business has not adapted well to change. Most wrestling promotions and wrestlers are run off of MySpace. The last time I accessed my MySpace account was the night before my daughter was born (14 1/2 months ago). One person who is not afraid of Twitter is Dana White, sitting at 1.2 million followers, #144 (according to http://www.wefollow.com), with more followers than Heidi Montag, Alyssa Milano, Dave Matthews, Spencer Pratt, Lamar Odom, Sean Kingston & Paulina Rubio. Before a big fight, Dana will promote the fight by asking known celebrities who’s going to win the main event, names like Eminem, 50 Cent, Sen. Harry Reid, Chad Ochocinco, Mike Tyson & David Spade. You would never see Vince McMahon ever trying this. That’s why Dana earns my respect.
So this is kind of my intro and why I like MMA/UFC.