When I was at college my roommate at the time Bharat Bhise introduced me to a wild new sport called mixed martial arts and the first event that I ever saw was UFC 3. At that time this was a sport that was widely ridiculed by fight fans, much of this was down its brutal and strangeness of watching a karate expert take on a wrestler, or other mixed styles. Over the years however the UFC has grown into a global power in terms of the sports world and it is currently one of the most watched events around the world. So how did the UFC come all this way and end up taking over from boxing as the fight game’s biggest hitter?
Cleaning Up Their Act
In the early days of the UFC there were almost no rules, fighters could eye gouge, groin kick, downward elbow people on the ground and even power slam onto the opponents head, not to mention that gloves weren’t mandatory. Over the years however the UFC have really cleaned up their acts and they have special gloves which must be worn and tight rules which prevent fighters from using the tactics mentioned above. Whilst the sport may appear brutal at the moment given the amount of blood we see, it is actually a far safer sport than boxing and the UFC has never had a fighter die because of injuries.
Fighters now offer a range of styles in terms of mixed martial arts and that has contributed towards a more entertaining and a more watchable fight. Styles differ of course, but there is not as big a gap between styles as there was in the past, which made fights look strange and unappealing.
So Many Spectacles
The UFC has fighters who fight regularly and they have a big roster which means that there are multiple main events each year. In boxing we used to see fighters throw down at least twice per year, now that is more like once per year as boxers look to preserve their legacies. In the UFC however there are always big events happening and most fighters will fight twice or 3 times a year if they are permitted.
The Big Fights
Because of the fact that fighters are under contract with the UFC, they end up with the right fights and the fights that the fans want to see. How many times have we waited for two boxers to reach an agreement and fight? This doesn’t happen in the UFC and it is one of the biggest reasons why this sport has taken over from boxing.
The UFC incentivizes its fighters with knockout and fight of the night bonuses which encourage them to really go for the kill. This, combined with the fact that fighters face 5 minute rounds, ensures that almost every fight is a battle, rather than a safe and disciplined defensive fight where opponents are just looking to score points.