Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in America. Millions watch it via pay-per-view and on cable channels. Sports Pubs have some of their biggest nights hosting MMA events. Ten years ago, nobody had ever heard of it. Today brands like Tapout and names like Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture are household names. Even those who have never watched the fights know of these. MMA is to this century what boxing was to the last.
MMA is an exciting sport
You are likely to see boxing, wrestling and karate skills all in the same match. You see what looks like a Greco-Roman wrestling match one minute and the next you see someone getting his opponents knee in his chin. It’s easy to see why fight fans are attracted to it. As huge as (fake) wrestling was in the 80s and 90s, MMA is in the 00s and 10s. And thank God it has supplanted wrestling. These guys are really fighting each other.
The five minute rounds are an excellent idea too. In boxing you have three minute rounds. It’s a lot tougher to get “saved by the bell” when you have to hang on for that extra two minutes. Also, the referees are not as quick to step in and stop a fight as boxing refs are. Boxing has had fighters killed in the ring. And so now they are extra cautious. In fact, they are almost too cautious. MMA refs will still let a fighter take a beating if he still wants to continue. There’s nothing worse than paying to watch a fight get stopped by an overzealous referee.
If MMA wants to remain popular in the long term, here are some things it may want to avoid:
Don’t spread yourself too thin
This is already somewhat happening. Right now you have different sanctioning bodies that fight on different networks. This is what got boxing in trouble. You have UFC, Strikefore, WEC, Bellator, etc.
When boxing was great, they had the WBC. And that was it. One belt in each class and that was enough. Just like football chases after one trophy, the Super Bowl, boxers chased after the WBC belt. Then there was the WBA. OK two belts, not so bad. But then before you knew it there were a dozen. It was too much. It went from everyone knowing who the champ was to nobody knowing.
Also, the whole pay-per-view thing killed boxing. In their greed, they took the best fighters and hid them from the public. Boxing was king when you could watch the championship fights on ABC, NBC, or CBS. If pay-per-view was the way to make your sport popular, the NFL would have done it long ago. Put your fights on free TV and make the sponsors pay for it, not the fans.
Avoid the ridiculous
And please, avoid the ridiculous, scripted trash talking. If the two combatants truly hate each other and have some words, that’s fine. But everyone can tell when it’s fake. This is not wrestling. Don’t turn it into wrestling. There is a reason your sport is kicking the hell out of wrestling now, and that is one of them. Don’t do it.