MMA is Bigger, Better, and Growing Faster Than Ever

January 14th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Historically no sport (not football, baseball, basketball, etc.) has grown faster than Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which is not even 20 years old. The sport has come a long way since the very first UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship),an 8 man elimination tournament event held at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado on November 12, 1993. I can vividly recall my anticipation and ambivalent feelings of repugnance and utter exhilaration after the first fight between Gerard Gordeau, a Dutch Karate stylist who was no stranger to full contact fighting, and a 430 lb. Sumo Wrestler named Telia Tuli. I thought the big guy would literally crush the tall and sinewy Gordeau but I was wrong.  It took Gerard Gordeau just 23 seconds to beat the former Sumo wrestler by simply stepping out of the way of the charging Tuli and subsequently landing a vicious right roundhouse kick squarely into his opponent’s face (who was on his knees – he fell when he charged) which sent teeth and blood flying into the audience and later we would find out that a molar tooth from the mouth of Telia was embedded in Gordeau’s right foot. Mr. Gordeau would deliver the coup de grace a second later via a right cross (punch) to the head while Tuli was still on his knees.
Unlike today, the first UFC was an elimination tournament, so Gerard Gordeau would have to fight 2 more times that night only to lose in the end to the world’s first mixed martial arts superstar – the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie. Two things emerged from that very first UFC: a new sport and a new martial arts fighting style, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, was born and would spread and grow like wildfire.
The 170 lb. Royce Gracie was unbeatable (except for his very large family) and he was considered the toughest man on the planet. It wasn’t Royce Gracie per se who was unstoppable, it was rather his style of fighting – Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Royce and the whole Gracie family were in power but it didn’t last too long. Soon everyone learned BJJ, the Gracies got rich, and virtually every city in the world had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. By the year 2000, every fighter knew BJJ and the myriad arm bars and chokes were no longer a big mystery.
This is a blog and not a history of MMA. (There are a plethora of books, magazines, and web sites if you want more. In the early days it was almost impossible to get any good information, now there is a glut) The sport evolved and grew so fast and what started out as basically bar room street fighting (except for BJJ) evolved into a highly technical and scientific art form. Mixed martial arts is now a hybrid of every fighting system under the sun including western disciplines such as boxing and wrestling. The rule of thumb is if something works in a live (not choreographed) combat situation, it is added to the MMA repository and war chest. Every professional ultimate fighter today is proficient in jiu-jitsu, boxing, Muay-Thai (or some other striking system, even karate but Muay-Thai is the best) and wrestling. Not to mention the fact that these fighters MUST have great cardio; they are without question the toughest and greatest athletes in the world.
For all you loyal and hard-core fans of MMA like me, the stuff I’ve written thus far is common knowledge. I’ll finish off with some interesting little tidbits for you guys:
The Ultimate Fighter reality show is going to have a new live format televised on FOX starting this year.
There have only been 3 fighters from TUF who have gone on to become champ: Matt Serra, Forrest Griffin, and Rashad Evans.

In the UFC, Chuck Liddell has the record for wins via knockout, which is 10. If you include Pride and the other major Promotion companies, the winner is Wanderlei Silva with 24. And when I say most knockouts I am talking “lights out baby” & TKOs are not included

Anderson Silva has been the Middleweight Champion for almost 6 years, has defended his title 9 times, has never lost a fight in the UFC, and has won 16 fights in a row. He is without a doubt the greatest pound for pound fighter ever to enter the octagon.

Many people argue that GSP is the best. Let’s find out, as soon as GSP recovers from his recent injury let’s get it on! Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva. I’m hopeful this will occur this year.

I was actually surprised to read this – Royce Gracie still holds the record for most wins via submission at 11. (This actually makes sense; remember his” girlie” punches? Sorry Royce, you’re a hall of famer and the first superstar but your striking….)

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think? Do you like MMA? Who are your favorite fighters? I personally trained at Matt Serra’s gym so my favorite fighters are Matt and GSP. I also loved Randy Couture because he’s my age and he’s still a warrior and most importantly a very nice guy.

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10 Responses to “MMA is Bigger, Better, and Growing Faster Than Ever”

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  2. le duke de fromage Says:

    Mr. Tabor, As a fairly new convert to the sport i certainly concur with your assesment. Combining the tired corrupt world of boxing and the total farce of professional wrestling, MMA has filled the void for action starved fans. Without doubt the athletes of this sport are impressive ,and the matches are an incredible display of skill, determination,strength, and extremly hard work. That said JON BONES jONES is my personal choice for favorite fighter. He may be the best overall fighter in the sport today.

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  9. Michael Tabor Says:

    This was written a year and a 1/2 ago, so as I stated in the blog, the sport is moving so fast that the faces of the superstars are changing ever so rapidly. Last night Jon Jones defended his title and I think that we can all agree now that Jon “Bones” Jones is without question the best pound – for – pounder. Since this was written Anderson Silva was shockingly knocked out by the somewhat mediocre, Chris Weidman (we’ll see if Weidman ever becomes one of the greats… right now it’s just too early to tell even though he’s champ) because either he was 1. “goofing off” & got caught (rule#1: the fighters are so good today nobody and I mean nobody can afford to clown around in the octagon) or 2. Father time has caught up w/Silva… he’s 38 years old; just think of Muhammad Ali & all other great boxers @ that age.

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