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This is the first in a two-part series about why the NCAA should add MMA as an officially sanctioned sport.
Mixed martial arts has been dubbed the “fastest growing sport in the world.”
It is a sport with ancient roots, dating back to the art of Pankration practiced by ancient Greek warriors.
In its modern form MMA started to reach high level publicity in 1993, with the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Its debut saw practitioners of different martial arts compete against each other in “no holds barred fighting” to prove once and for all which martial art is the most effective in real life combat.
Boxers battled wrestlers, karate black belts squared off against judo black belts and even sumo wrestlers tried their hands (and bellies) at the brand new idea in combat sports.
Eventually fighters competing in MMA began to evolve, cross training in different styles. Boxers learned how to wrestle and wrestlers learned how to box.
It came to the point where MMA was no longer an expo to see which style of fighting was superior, but a legitimate sport where equal athletes went to battle with one another.
Twenty years since its inception, the sport can be seen on Pay-Per-View, on TV networks such as FOX and in regional events near your hometown. More and more athletes are choosing to train in MMA rather than venture into traditional American sports like baseball, basketball and football.
It is time for colleges in America to capitalize on this sport’s surging popularity and make MMA an NCAA sanctioned sport. I am willing to offer three valid reasons that the NCAA should make MMA an official sport under their banner.
For one, as already stated, the sport is rapidly gaining popularity. It is growing both by the number of athletes who participate in the sport, and the number of spectators.
The main audience comes from the 18-34 age range, which is perfect since college students are mostly in this demographic.
If you need proof of this statement of popularity, go up to 10 American male teenagers and ask them who Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre are. Chances are the majority of them will tell you that they are two of the baddest men walking the face of God’s green earth.
While the obvious gender target is males, MMA is becoming more and more popular with females. In fact the UFC’s most recent Pay-Per-View event featured the first ever women’s championship fight in the main event.
Also the sport is spreading across the maps, as it is currently sanctioned by 46 states, with the remaining states pushing for change in legislation. In addition to America,
MMA is extremely popular in Brazil, Japan and Canada, and is even starting to spread into Europe and India.
On another note the sport is not only growing, but becoming more profitable.
UFC 148: Silva vs Sonnen II, was the UFC’s biggest event of 2012, raking in around 1 million Pay-Per-View buys. This kind of interest and money could do great things for colleges that instated MMA programs.
Cheyene Miller is a journalism freshman and MMA fighter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.