Last weekend’s Ulimate Fighting Championship 135 pulled in an estimated $2 million at the gate, and the Pay Per View buys are expected to be some of the largest in the promotion’s history.
If you were one of the unlucky students who decided to skip the main event between Rampage Jackson and Jon “Bones” Jones for country singer Dierks Bentley, I feel bad for you. Not only did you miss a night filled with highlight-reel knockouts and submissions, but you also missed one of your last chances to see the UFC before it officially goes mainstream.
In November the UFC’s seven-year prime time deal with FOX will take effect, and now is a better time than ever to embrace the future of sports before you’re left in the dark.
Here’s three reasons why the UFC is worth watching:
1. The UFC is the fastest growing sports brand IN THE WORLD
That’s not a typo, folks. Mixed Martial Arts is currently the fastest growing sport in the world, and the UFC’s popularity is not just reaching all-time highs here in America. Last month’s UFC 134 was held in Brazil and sold faster than wildfire proving Brazil is just another country starving for top-notch action.
Successful events have also been held in England, Japan, Canada, Germany and even Saudi Arabia. While some Americans have embraced the sport, many are still on the fence.
I think we need to support MMA the way our parents and grandparents supported boxing. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the fights were the epitome of social events. Let’s show the world the best fighters with the most support are still coming from the U.S., and Las Vegas is still the best place in the world to watch a fight (insert U-S-A chant here).
2. The UFC has the best athletes in the world
I know you’re thinking to yourself, ‘OK, he just lost me on that one,’ but hear me out. In no other sport will you see athletes pull off moves as jaw-dropping as the spinning-back kicks, superman punches and judo throws that take place in the Octagon.
You think football players are tough? Watch former NFL player Brendan Schaub’s last fight against 35-year-old Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Schaub may be 6 feet 4 inches and 260 pounds, but the much smaller and older Nogueira knocks him out in one round.
The UFC’s roster consists of former NCAA and Olympic champion wrestlers, world champion kickboxers, golden glove boxers and karate/judo experts, and that’s just a few examples.
There’s a reason scores of professional athletes are turning to MMA for their off-season workouts, and it’s because the conditioning and strength training these guys endure makes me tired just by watching from my couch.
3. MMA is safer than boxing and football
I feel your frustration, man. You and your boys love the UFC, but you can’t convince your girlfriend and her friends to come watch too. If you’ve been looking for a way to try and convince the ladies (or your hesitant guy friends) to give MMA a shot, here’s the best argument I can come up with. MMA is much safer than boxing.
Since its inception in the U.S., there have been no serious injuries or deaths in any of the major, sanctioned MMA organizations, but there are 39 documented cases of boxers who have died because of injuries sustained in the ring.
Unlike boxing, where fighters sustain repeated blows to the head for up to 15 rounds, MMA fights last only 3-5 rounds and much of the action takes place on the ground in the forms of wrestling, grappling and submission attempts. Boxing gloves are also weighted, meaning they pack a devastating punch.
Look at the NFL players who break bones, sustain concussions and tear ligaments every week. No one has ever been paralyzed in a UFC fight before, but each year we hear about high school, college and professional players who will never be able to walk again. The hits are becoming so violent that the NFL is going to great lengths to make the game safer because so many former players have suffered irreversible damage. Collapsed lungs and ruptured spleens don’t happen in MMA, but they do in football. MMA may be much younger than both sports, but the facts speak for themselves.
So before Cain Valesquez and Junior dos Santos square off for the heavyweight title Nov. 12 live on FOX, do yourself a favor. Get off the couch, and go watch one of the next four events so you don’t feel so out-of-the-loop when everybody tunes in for the biggest fight in the history of the sport.
Ryan Shaver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.