Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mainstream Fighting

Last Sunday 60 Minutes aired a segment about the rise of Mixed Marial Arts and the UFC in the US. Once banned in all 50 states, a redesigned UFC has gained access to 21 states and the attention of millions of men age 18 to 34. I don't remember the exact statistics shared druing the segment, but more people watched a UFC PPV championship fight than a NFL playoff game that took place at the same time.

What is interesting is the fact that once rules were put in place (no groin kicking, hitting while a man is down or bare fists) profits began to sore. The first go round was a bit rotten. But add some thinly padded gloves and 20 other regulations, guys can't get enough.

Also interesting is the Octogon that the fights take place in. Surounded by chain link fence, the fighting area has the feel of a cockfighting ring. Thoudands of screaming fans sit eagerly awaiting the next pummeling while multy colored lights and long winded announcers feed the atmosphere. Have you ever seen Battle Bots? It kind of reminded me of that. The octagon is a fighting ring hyrid. Boxing and pro wrestling take place in squares and traditional wrestling (middle school, high school and college) takes place in a large circle. The octagon seems to be a mixer of the two shapes associated with fighting.

Men have always enjoyed a good fight. Yes, you may think fighting is barbaric (which it is), but league leaders argue that football is just as violent and millions are encouraged to play and watch. The 60 minutes segement a very good point when it pointed out that if there is a football game on one corner, a basketball game on the next and a fight on the third corner, chances are everyone is going to gather around the fight. Fights show passion, vulnerabiltiy and agility. All things that grab peoples attention regardless of the situation.

I can't prove this, but I wonder what king of impact the movie Fight Club had on the success of the UFC? Yes it was no-holds-bared, kick-them-while-they're-down fighting, but it got a lot of guys worked up. Instead of watching fake diamond cutters and pile drivers, there was a need for something different. Something a bit more real.

No comments: