For many decades the United States has been known around the globe for having a reputation of having tough citizens. Kids who grow up in certain East Coast cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia have had no choice but to be able to defend themselves in hand to hand combat. Kids who grow up in the midwest have that wrestling background ingrained in their bodies that make them country strong and West Coast youths were also raised to be tough and stick up for themselves.
When technology advanced and kids started to get into video games and computers more and more, I feel that the kids and teenagers in this country really started to go soft. Instead of being out there interacting with friends and horsing around, a lot of kids have locked themselves in their room and immersed themselves in imaginary worlds. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy video games myself and can really appreciate the strides these games have made since I was a kid with Atari, Nintendo, and Sega Genesis to todays X-Box and Playstation systems.
Then along came the emerging force that is MMA. The sport was first showed in a semi-organized manner at UFC 1 in 1993. This was a dream come true for fans who were tiring of boxing and had a love for martial arts, whether as a practitioner or just a fan of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies.
There is no doubt in my mind that MMA has toughened up this country on a whole. Now you have youngsters dedicating a lot of their time and energy to try to prepare themselves to be the next big MMA star. There are so many different MMA gyms now popping up around every corner of the country. I can guarantee you that the average 15-year-old is a lot more capable of defending themselves now in a self-defense situation let’s say 15 years ago.
A lot of the sports success can ironically be attributed to men that were trying to shut it down. Powerful politicians like Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain were spearheading campaigns to shut the sport down because of its brutal nature. They were using terms like “human cockfighting” to describe the sport in their efforts to put an end to it. All they did was take it to another level though. This forced organizations like the UFC to make it a much more legit sport. Gone were the freak show match ups of a 180 lb man fighting a 250 lb man. Gone were the nights when a fighter had to win 3 fights in one evening. Gone were the no holds barred rules that became associated with MMA. Now we have weight classes, a set time limit on rounds, and proper insight from sanctioning bodies across the country.
I think things will only get bigger and better for MMA fans in this country as well. Now you can turn on ESPN and see the results of major MMA events right after NFL, NBA, and MLB scores. It is a good time to be a MMA fan. With the Olympic games about to begin in London there will be a lot of chatter about the possibility of future games having MMA as a competition. I don’t know how I feel about that yet, but that is for a future debate.