Hi there fellow BE folks. The following features a list of some of my favourite aspects of MMA. It’s kind of long, but I tried to make it as readable as possible. Let me know what you think in the comments. :)
I started watching MMA back when the GSP vs. Koscheck series of TUF was playing on TV. As hard as it might be to believe I had never heard of mixed martial arts before I watched the show, back in late 2010 at the age of 27. In fact, I didn’t follow a single sport at that time, that sort of competition was just not something I found intriguing. I might have watched a few events during the Olympics but that was about the extent of it.
Then one day my boyfriend insisted on showing me the first episode of season 13 of TUF. I didn’t know what the hell was going on most of the time but I thought it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen when an Alaskan rascal by the name of Cody McKenzie managed to choke someone out using a strange looking manoeuvre called a ‘guillotine’.
I wasn’t sure about whether I wanted to continue watching the series based on enjoying that single choke, but luckily I did, and as the series developed I became excited by the uncertain nature of any given fight, and most of all I looked forward, hopefully, to seeing the quiet and respectful Georges St Pierre pulverise the thuggish jock Josh Koscheck.
Boy did I love that fight when it finally happened. I had only a slight idea of who they were as fighters, based on what had been shown during the series, so I was crossing my fingers that GSP would be able to pull it off, not having a clue as to how dominant he’d been in his other fights.
I knew almost nothing about boxing at the time but watching GSP jab Koscheck’s eye into oblivion made me absolutely fall in love with the sport. I gained great satisfaction from Koscheck’s defeat, considering his behaviour on the show, and to know that a good guy like GSP could be a champion felt very rewarding as a newcomer to watching the sport.
GSP vs. Koscheck was the perfect rivalry to get someone like myself interested in the sport. The good guy vs. the villain… how can you go wrong with that? The hype for that fight really paid off in my eyes, the hero was the victor and the performance from GSP was highly entertaining. I came to love hype from then on, the build-up to every event made me excited as to who would rise and who would fall. It felt like anything was possible on any given night. They would bring up fights such as GSP vs. Matt Serra 1 or Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, both undeniable proofs that a champion is capable of being defeated at any time.
But over time, I learnt that hype is not always a guarantee that a fight or fighter will be exciting. The first big fight that disappointed me was Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans. From the very beginning Jon Jones rubbed me the wrong way with his smug attitude, and in spite of Rashad being cocky in the cage he seemed like a pretty nice guy outside of it. I really bought into the fact that they had been training partners and that Rashad had what it took to defeat him. As you and I now know, I was wrong.
The first round was pretty exciting, with Rashad landing a solid head kick but after that Jon Jones dismantled every weapon Evans tried to throw at him. In terms of disappointment, it wasn’t so much the fact that Rashad lost (although that helped), it was the way Rashad became unable to pull the trigger for the majority of the later rounds, no doubt due to those ridiculously long elbows that were aimed his way every time he tried to get into punching range.
I will admit it, I got too wrapped up in the hype for that fight. But I learnt something important afterwards that I hold very strongly to now. It is not who the fighter is as a person that matters, it is how they perform in the cage. I still enjoy learning about the fighters’ personalities in interviews, but that now comes secondary to appreciating the fighters’ skills. I feel like watching that fight made me grow a great deal as a fan of MMA, and I’m very glad to be in a place now where I can cast aside my dislike of someone’s demeanour outside of the cage and just enjoy them for the skilled athletes they are.
Speaking of skills:
There is so much to learn about this sport that I feel like I am only taking baby steps in terms of knowledge about MMA. It is crazy to think that only a couple of years ago I didn’t know what half guard was, or a body triangle, or a double leg, or feints, heck I barely even knew what combinations were. But my knowledge is coming together over time. At the moment I am trying to focus on boxing and Muay Thai with a bit of Jiu Jitsu here and there. I bought a heavy bag not long ago and I’m trying to teach myself the basics of boxing so I don’t look like a fool going to classes.
I really enjoy watching great fighters put all of their techniques together so I have something to aspire to. Every time I watch a great striking battle I want to get out there on the heavy bag and try to emulate what I’ve seen. It is such a beautiful thing to see people who are masterful at their craft, and the idea that I could be even close to knowing what it’s like to be at that level of understanding of a combat sport, well it makes me very enthusiastic for the future.
As much as I said that I try not to focus on fighters’ personalities, I do love a good show of respect between opponents. One of my favourite moments that can happen in a fight is when those involved are having such a good time that they high five, or give each other a hug. Moments like that make me smile. There are certain fighters however, who talk a lot about respect beforehand but continuously knee their opponent in the junk during a fight, knee their opponent in the face when they are obviously down, poke their opponent in the eye ‘accidently’ over and over again or even spit in their opponents corner after the fight as Michael Bisping did. People who foul repeatedly are pretty low in my opinion, it’s one of the few aspects of the sport that I really don’t like, and I wish points would be deducted more frequently, especially for poking someone in the eye considering how dangerous doing that is.
Back to the title of ‘respect’, it took me a while to appreciate the work the fighters go through, day in and day out trying to build their careers from the ground up in a sport that’s tough as nails to get into, reach the championship level, and even hold onto their careers long after their prime. Early on I would be judgemental about fighters who didn’t pull the trigger or dull fights with large amounts of inactivity. I still get frustrated, but I try not to rip apart a fighter because they have a subpar performance. I talk about what they could have done better, but I mean, fighters are human beings. I have seen so many horrible things said about certain fighters, male and female (I have been guilty of saying horrible things myself at times) but as much as you might not like someone’s fighting style, attacking them personally is not going to help them become a better fighter. Sorry, that probably sounded a bit preachy. My main point is that you should treat others as you want to be treated, whether it is in person, or on the interwebz.
I think I’m going to leave it there. This is a really long article, and thanks to anyone who takes the time to read it. Cheers. :)