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The Ultimate Fighting Championship
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is recognized as one of the fastest rising sports in America today. In a matter of two short years, it has gone from an underground spectacle with evolving rules and standards to a recognized sport with a mass fan following comparable in number to ?professional wrestling? in the ?80s and ?90s. The demand the sport has on a fighter?s body and the endless time devoted to training that a fighter must endure have solidified the UFC?s place as a serious contender for the newest, world recognized sport. The excitement and electricity felt by fans viewing the fight live and by those at home make the UFC, in my opinion, the best sport in the United States today.
The UFC has been around since 1993 but was not a regulated combat sport until 2001 after an ownership trade leaving Zuffa Inc. in charge of the operations of the UFC. Two years ago the owner of Zuffa Inc. and the UFC, Dana White, reached a deal with Spike TV to air a reality show titled ?The Ultimate Fighter.? On this show, two already legendary fighters, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, coached a group of 20 fighters, all with amateur or some professional experience, to the goal of being the ?Ultimate Fighter.? To achieve this they would fight their way into the finals and fight for a six figure contract with the UFC and other large priced gifts, all in front of a live, broadcasted event comparable to a pay-per-view boxing or wrestling match. The attention the show and event received pushed the UFC into the upper ranks of highly regarded sports. The show is still continuing today and is currently on its fourth installation. The show has gained a lot of attention because of the excitement of the fight that takes place at the end of each episode between two of the fighters. Even more accountable for the success is the entertainment of observing the dynamic personalities of fighters and how they live together, but also the way the show captures the training and fanatical conditioning of each fighter.
It has been said by many that the UFC is just a barbaric showcase that is nothing but the portrayal of human beasts. This has been expressed to the extent of a main story on nightly news showed recently on MSNBC. This news story was about the UFC and showed many differing points, first of the opposition of the UFC and then of fighters actually fighting in the sport. The opposition?s refutation in the story was that the UFC was simply too violent and had no purpose in American culture but to add on to the violent background that has been established in this culture. The fighters themselves defended it by stating that, yes, it?s violent, but it is not simply barbaric. Instead it is an actual sport that requires toughness, technique and conditioning unlike any sport in the world today.
Compared to other sports, fighters in the UFC are much better conditioned. It is even a commonly stated argument that these fighters are number one in the world of athletes when it comes to conditioning. To fight in the UFC you must be well versed in all combat sports. That is how the name for the actual brand of fighting got its name, mixed martial arts (MMA). All of the sports are combined in a fighter?s repertoire. A list of those would include boxing and kickboxing (stand-up), wrestling, jiu jitzu, and muay thai (ground and pound). With all of these going on simultaneously, a fighter rarely has room to rest in the five minute rounds. With this endless need for energy, a fighter spends hours running, sprinting and technique training in order to stay in the best shape possible. I have participated in potentially every recognized sport for some period of time, including fighting, and the sport that requires the most energy and leaves you closest to the point of exhaustion is MMA. While many sports, such as basketball, football, soccer, make conditioning a vital part to success, the conditioning required for these sports come up short of the UFC.
In many sports you must be tough. To place a UFC/MMA fighter below any other regulated sport in terms of toughness would be irrational and uneducated. Set aside the physical demands of conditioning, a fight lasts as short as a one punch knock out to the full fifteen to twenty minute battle. Twenty minutes of being punched in the face, kicked in the ribs legs and face, getting body slammed onto the wooden mat, and being choked until submission or loss of consciousness would toughen a human far more than the toll a body takes in any other sport.
Another factor that is somewhat overlooked is the effect fans have on a sport and its events. With a truly passionate group of fans, a sport can really excel. The quick growth of the UFC fan base may cause the opposition to question the true loyalty and passion of the fans of the UFC. Just watching an event live, however, you can really see the intrigue and energy in the building. And if the sport pulls you in, you may feel the energy yourself. One reason for this energy is the sheer excitement of a fight. Another reason, and possibly the reason for the excitement, is the complexity of the sport of MMA.
At first glance of an uninformed eye, the UFC literally looks like an unorganized street fight in an octagon shaped cage. Upon spending a small amount of time openly watching a single fight, one will begin to recognize the commonly referred ?chess-like precision? of a fight. This is possibly the most important reason I feel this sport is at the top of all sports. The complexity of this sport is what really makes it stand out. First, to go into a fight, you must be trained in many different versions of combat as stated before. This automatically creates a complex atmosphere for a fighter because while a fighter is to be versed in all versions, most keep a centered focus on a certain style. Boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai are considered ?stand-up? style, because you spend your time on your feet. Many of these fighters come from rough neighborhoods and physical childhoods. These are the ones you see with the big knockout punches and kicks. Wrestling is considered more of a ?ground and pound? attack because wrestlers usually aim to take an opponent to the ground, gain control and then proceed to throw punches, preferably while on top of their opponent. These fighters are often former college skilled wrestlers or people who don?t have the advantage in a standing punch flurry. Jiu Jitzu is considered submission fighting, because the focus of Jiu Jitzu artists is to find a way to submit an opponent. There are multiple ways to submit an opponent. An arm bar is the hyperextension of an arm until an opponent submits or ?taps?. A leg bar is the same but with a leg. A rear naked choke occurs when a fighter puts their arm around the neck of an