UFC 217 and 218, just weeks apart, proved to be some of the best cards of the year. Without a doubt there is something special about combat sports and that certain something was evident on both occasions. Whether it is the two best competitors in the world going up against each other to decipher a clear champion, bad blood between two athletes that finally get to put gloves on and let their skills do the talking, or a fighter putting on a performance that establishes them as a true contender, MMA is the ultimate form of competition and when its good…its great.
Once in a while, two of the best fighters in the world dislike each other and that makes for a spectacle that is unrivaled in its allure. Case and point: Tj Dilashaw and Cody “No Love” Garbrant. Two former trainer partners. One a former champion looking to get his title back and the other the current champion looking to cement his position as the best Bantamweight on the planet. These are the contests that drive millions of people to spend their hard earned money on Pay-Per-Views.
MMA, along with its new found mainstream attention, has taken an interesting turn in the evolution of the sport. From humble martial artists pitting their individual skill sets against each other to answering the age old question of what the single best martial art is. We have taken the leap to fully fledged prize fighters and quite frankly the sport is growing because of it.
Super fights, trash talk and the silent whispers of fighter unions are now a staple in MMA. Guys like Colby Covington insulting the entire nation of brazil is not a sign that MMA fighters are uneducated thugs. They are actually adapting and learning that it does not matter if people love them or hate them. All that matters is that you get their attention. This has been something boxers have known for years.
For example, Floyd Mayweather is not upset about the fact that people buy his Pay-Per-Views in hope of seeing him finally lose, and hopefully by knockout. What he cares about is that he holds not just one but all three of the top highest selling Pay-Per-View records. Mayweather vs McGregor at number 1,; Mayweather vs Paquiao 2nd and Mayweather vs Canelo 3rd. All three over 1 million Pay-Per-Views buys.
His brash persona and his flaunting Instagram posts are just a few of the reasons people want to see him served a slice of humble pie. He is also however the best boxer we have ever seen, potentially of all time. That is the true secret to being successful in combat sports. You can talk trash and be brash but you have to back it up and if you do you’re set.
Hardcore fans will always tune in to watch the best fighters compete and the casual fans will watch to support their favorite fighters. For years MMA relied heavily on the hardcore fan base to tune in based on knowing the current Flyweight champion, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson is one of the best fighters alive. The fighters were not expected to do more than fight.
However, the success of stars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey transcending the sport and becoming multi millionaires has influenced other fighters to follow in their footsteps.
It is an interesting time in the sport of MMA filled with hot prospects like Francis “The Predator” Ngannou the latest Heavy Weight contender, Max “Blessed” Holloway a young hungry champion that looks better each time he steps in the octagon and many more. Stay tuned… its going to be a good 2018!