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Movement Gym Revolution Part II: Mixed Martial Arts & The UFC

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

It was Saturday July 5th, 2008 and the first day of the 2nd Annual CrossFit Games had just come to a close at The Ranch of the ever hospitable Castros in Aromas, California.   My legs were beat to death having completed 3 gruesome WODS earlier in the day (for those of you who care, it was the hill run of death, Snobby chest-to-bar Fran, and the heavy Deadlift-Burpee WOD), and there was one more to do on the next day, but that wasn’t on my mind anymore.  A couple of the CrossFitters that I had just made friends with, and the rest of us who were still there after the event were actually waiting for the title fight between Forrest Griffin .vs. Quinton Rampage Jackson featured in UFC 86.  Back in 2008 not only did the UFC have our attention, but it also had an estimated worth of $1,000,000,000.   The growth of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC has been astounding since the inception of its modern form on Nov. 12th 1993.  It started with a little experiment that set out to determine which style of martial art would be more effective by pitting champion fighters from several different disciplines in an elimination tournament titled UFC 1 with minimal rules to impede the action.  Since those early days the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has evolved through a unique history of challenges and breakthroughs and is rumored to be worth closer to $2,500,000,000 that 2 million that the current owners were said to have purchased it for back in 2001.   I’ve tried to look up sources estimating the number of “mixed martial arts” gym in the country, but the statistics don’t exist since they are too hard to track and the definition and standards for an “MMA” gym are somewhat unreliable.  Supposedly there are about 28  MMA gyms regularly producing professional level fighters regularly (as opposed to the perhaps tens of thousands of gyms, studios, and health clubs with “MMA classes”)  After all at that level the fighters tend to cluster and train together.  But here are a couple of links related to “The World’s Fastest Growing Sport”:

This Sports Illustrated article came out in 2008 during the trough of the stock market crash and economic collapse:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/nicki_jhabvala/11/10/mma-business-economy/index.html

Here’s a wikipedia history of the sprot of MMA and the Ultimate Fighting Championship:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Fighting_Championship

I think that the only thing that would stand a better chance of capturing the unguarded attention of the masses would be armed gladiatorial fighting ancient Roman style.  Is Mixed Martial Arts soon to be surpassed by CrossFit as the world’s fastest growing sport?  I for one am fascinated by MMA matches and merely intrigued by watching CF Games competitions, nevertheless one thing that CrossFit has going for it over MMA is that it has a broader range of possible participants who once they experience the “sport” of CrossFit themselves are more likely to become spectators of the CrossFit Games that they can empathize with from their own experiences.   It’s kind of like a baseball player being more likely to watch a baseball game than someone who has never played in their life and doesn’t necessarily understand the sport.  (If you care to have a little bit of MMA-type excitement in your CrossFit life?  Well, if you’re a Caver at least you can get some grappling in during the Judo classes on Mondays & Wednesdays at 6pm with instructor Nick Wise.)  Please post thoughts, comments, questions, or observations regarding the growth of Mixed Martial Arts to comments.