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Love it or hate it, MMA is 'inevitable'
Posted on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm
by IDMA Editor

INDIANAPOLIS | So let me take a shot in the dark, here: You're not a fan of mixed martial arts.

UFC president Dana White smiles Thursday after receiving an Indiana Pacers jersey from Pacers COO Rick Fuson at the UFC 119 pre-fight press conference at the Old National Center in Indianapolis. He is flanked by main-event fighters Frank Mir, left, and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, right. UFC 119 takes place Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and will be the UFC's Indiana debut. Photo from nwi.com

You probably don't call it that -- you probably call it "ultimate fighting" or "cage fighting" or "extreme fighting." You might even call it what Sen. John McCain called it years ago -- "human cockfighting." But whatever name you give it, you probably think it's too bloody, glorifies violence and is akin to ancient gladiators forcing two men to fight till one of them became a farm purchaser.

But you'd be wrong. Most of the time, anyway.

Consider for a minute that mixed martial arts isn't going away. It's the fastest growing sport in the world; the rules are fairly universal, and it transcends typically global boundaries in sports. After all, no matter what country you're from, you understand a fight. But this is fighting, and people do get punched. And they get kicked. And they get cut. And they get bruised. And they break bones. And yes, there will be blood.

Too violent? Ever see Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs tackle someone? How about having Bryan Bickell check someone into the glass? There are plenty of team sports that rack of plenty of injuries, too.

But quite obviously, the sport is not for everyone. And that's OK. You don't have to love it, but as UFC president Dana White said Thursday, don't plan on it going away anytime soon.

"It's inevitable," White said. "This thing isn't going anywhere. We're not going backwards; we're going forward. We just opened an office in China. We've got an office in Toronto. We've got an office in London. Vegas."

Though the sport is sanctioned in most states, there are a few holdouts -- and a few critics. New York Assemblyman Bob Reilly near single-handedly campaigned to keep his state from passing legislation over the summer. And he won. Meanwhile, when the UFC brings millions of dollars in revenue to the East Coast, it does so across the bridge in New Jersey -- for now.

"He either hates fighting or is just looking for a soapbox to stand on for political reasons," White said of Reilly. "If he really educated himself about the sport, I think he would change his mind. There's some guys out there that just aren't fans of fighting. They don't think that two people should engage in physical combat. Well, this is America, brother. You're going to start telling people what they can and can't do? What sports they can participate in? You're living in the wrong country if that's your motivation. I don't like golf. It doesn't mean other people shouldn't play it or watch it."

When MMA became regulated in Indiana in 2009, going into effect Jan. 1 this year, there were no doubt detractors, most falling in the uneducated-about-MMA camp.

But for those who find it too violent or too dangerous, regulation is absolutely the only way to go.

Sanctioned mixed martial arts guarantees on-site doctors and ambulances. It guarantees fighters will be treated fairly and will have gone through appropriate medical checks. It guarantees they will be insured. The commission is there for fighters' protection and well-being.

As White said, it's not going anywhere. The alternative to state-sanctioned MMA is to have no sanctioning, which forces fights underground and into backyards and parking lots.

Don't like it if you must, but be glad that it continues to clear sanctioning hurdles. Otherwise, the end result would be much closer to being barbaric than what the sport has become today.



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