Amidst the complaints, boo birds, and increasing number of fans finding reasons to complain, right now is the best time in history to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts.
It’s amazing looking back a few short years to a time when watching the sport was much more difficult. If you were rabid follower of mixed martial arts ( then commonly referred to as no holds barred fighting) your viewing options were extremely limited, you could travel to your local video store in hopes that the latest tape was available ( of which the store would carry one copy often 6 month old events), you could search online click the link and begin the tireless operation of downloading a grainy MPEG with your 56K modem and wait 24 hours to watch 3:12 of action, or you could search the back of magazines and order a VHS copy of the latest event many times lacking English commentary, or the ever popular tape trading forums where you too could purchase home video of fights from basements in some foreign country.
Oh how times have changed, I can vividly remember last November was speaking with FiveOuncesofPain.com’s managing editor Cory Brady, the conversation consisted of my amazement that we were moving into uncharted territory. At the time there was an unheard-of nine major events being held in a three-week period.
For both of us a schedule of events like this was unheard-of, as a fan of mixed martial arts in 2010 it is becoming more and more commonplace. For the first time in my many years of watching the sport, the last 10 days of May prove to be the time where I simply could not watch every live event available to me. In retrospect it’s a good problem to have. With TiVo and advances on the Internet fans have the ability to watch the sport, ALL of the sport, virtually anything they want. I look back at the end of May shows us exactly how far we’ve come,
May 19 – The Ultimate Fighter-Spike
May 20 – Bellator XIX – FSN
May 21- Moosin– PPV
May 21- STRIKEFORCE Challengers
May 21- K-1 World GP 2010 in Bucharest
May 22- Jungle Fights – ESPN Deportes
May 26- The Ultimate Fighter-Spike
May 27- Bellator XX– FSN
May 28- M-1 Selection Eastern Europe Semi-Final – Online
May 29- DREAM.14 – HDNet
May 29- M-1 Selection Western Europe Sem-Final- Online
May 29- UFC 114 prelims- Spike
May 29- UFC 114 Rampage vs. Evans– PPV
The list above only includes programming would fights that have never been seen before. It makes no mention of the UFC countdown show, ESPN weigh-in show, Bellator Sunday Fights, ESPN’s MMA Live, WEC on Versus, ESPN Post UFC 114 coverage, Inside MMA, HDNet fights, Fighting Words, and any local MMA programming your carrier may provide. Did I mention that the UFC had a fan Expo that drew 125,000 people the final weekend of May?
While I realize that many fans prefer one organization or another, for those fans who enjoy all things MMA, schedules like the one posted above are slowly becoming the rule rather than the exception. It is a testament to the rabid fan following that we are now showered with any number of choices on any given day. And while many people seemed to find themselves unsatisfied for whatever reason with Rampage vs. Evans , I’m happy that the sport has progressed to a point where people have the access to watch these events, in real time. I may not agree with some people’s opinions when the prefer to express their unhappiness with certain events, or specific fights in general, I am very thankful that people care enough to watch the event, and have an opinion.
The little sub culture that is MMA fandom is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past, as mixed martial arts as a whole begins to set a foothold in the mainstream.
As fans of bat, ball, and puck sports will attest, mainstream sports culture is one of discontent, if championships are not won people want changes, fans boo what they don’t like, and cheer what they enjoy and in that respect MMA has become more mainstream that many would like to admit. I’ve witnessed Superbowl champion NFL teams find themselves the subject of angry fans who are not satisfied with victory alone. Much like their mainstream counter parts method of victory is becoming important to the vocal minority on a week to week basis. Is it right or wrong? The truth is that it doesn’t really matter, people are talking about the sport, the sport is growing, and our athletes are now being treated much like their peers in other sports.
MMA is becoming a major player, and as I fan I’m enjoying just about every minute of it. It’s a great time to be a fan of mixed martial arts.