Monday, May 14, 2012

My View: MMA

Many of you might know Taylor Wily (pictured above) as the shaved ice/shrimp & rice vendor 'Kamekona', from the hit remake TV series Hawaii-Five-O. But that's not who I see, I see Teila Tuli, the man who, in my eyes, made the UFC.
It was a Saturday night and the year was 1993. A few friends and I had gone to our favorite hang-out the Marble Arch Showroom Public House, an establishment made famous by the Motley Crew song Girls,Girls,Girls, but that's another story. As we approach the bar to order a few drinks, our friend Rick, the bartender, immediately asks if we've seen the fights last night? Being an avid boxing enthusiast, I was bewildered and replied that there wasn't any boxing on. Rick says no the Ultimate Fighting, we taped it, I'll get the DJ to put it on for you guys. So there we sat, in a smoke filled lounge scattered with scantily clad women, watching this dimly projected, grainy, VHS taped, event called the UFC...
The event was unlike anything my friends and I had ever seen, instead of a tradition ring, fighters fought in an octagon shaped, 6 foot tall, metal cage. There were no rules and no weight classes, luckily however they did have a referee. As they start announcing the first match we get a glimpse of the first fighter, a 430lb sumo wrestler known as 'Teila Tuli', and across from him, his opponent a 216lb savate fighter named Gerard Gordeau. What unfolded next, was history in the making, as we eagerly anticipated the beginning of this modern day David and Goliath battle. Normally a bout with such unevenly matched opponents would never take place in Boxing, and everyone was a bit apprehensive as to what kind of injuries poor Gerard would suffer.
Gordeau evaded Tuli's rush, pushed Tuli to the canvas, and connected with a kick to the face, which subsequently caused the premature departure of a few of Tuli's teeth. In a matter of 20 or so seconds the match was over and I was hooked. It wasn't the violence, or lack of rules that made me a fan, it was seeing how different styles matched up. On that day a new sport was born, known as mixed martial arts. Since that day in 1993, I've watched mma events from all of the world, from different organizations, with different rules and I considered myself a loyal hardcore fan. 

However, as of late, I'm no longer as fascinated with the sport of mma as I once was. But why? Have I changed? Has maturity finally beaten me down? Maybe it's because mma, as it was in the beginning, no longer exists. Instead what we have today is a hybridization of all fighting styles. There are no one dimensional fighters any more. In today's version of UFC, each and every fighter must be fully trained, and accomplished in all disciplines of mma. It's no longer the boxer against the wrestler, or karate vs sumo, instead it's two opponents who are almost identical in training, weight, and age. Most fighters today have strategy coaches, watch their opponents videos, and get pointers from sparring partners that have already fought their opponents. For me today's UFC is no longer the mma of years past, but instead a new sport which we should start referring to as 'Ultimate Fighting'.

The UFC and MMA has come a long way, the fighters are better trained, the production quality is top notch, and the industry is flourishing, but are the fights better? Just because my Xbox360 has stunningly smooth graphics, co-operative on-line game-play, and controller free gaming, doesn't mean the games are any more entertaining than those on my MAME arcade machine. Not for me, I enjoy the old MMA style fighting, and going to the arcade for old fashioned retro gaming. I kind of feel sorry for the new generation growing up not knowing what it meant to have different fighting styles, and arcades.

By: Mass

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