Today there is a new sport of kings and it is called, Mixed Martial Arts. The history that defines the “Sport of Kings” began around 300 years ago in England, where the idea of breeding a superior racehorse was a passion of royalty. And too began the novel idea that anyone could come to the track and take part in that passion.
Everybody remembers “Seabiscuit.” That horse made so famous in the movie of the same name not so many years ago. That movie is not about the horse or the sport of horse racing. It is about how an entire culture can be built around an idea, the idea that an underdog that no one expects to amount to anything can come from nowhere and rise to the top and inspire a nation. That is what is happening now in Mixed Martial Arts.
It is a pivotal time in the USA. We are all war and recession weary. We are all looking for something or someone to inspire us. The way we communicate is evolving. We have grown away from a two-way exchange of ideas around the campfire for stories and conversations to a one-way written society based on the written word. Sure, radio, television and film have transformed the delivery device but the exchange of ideas has still been primarily one-sided. “Everybody is talking at me,” to quote a phrase.
Today’s “New-media” is a way for us to get back around the campfire. It gives everyone the ability for expression that is unprecedented based on the speed and the scale of delivery. As Andy Warhol predicted in the late sixties, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” That time is now. The motivation to become “famous” is merely an extension of our personal need for identity and individuality.
More and more people are identifying with Mixed Martial Arts and some of its’ stars and future stars. Now, more than ever, up and coming Mixed Martial Artists are gaining fans. Over the years the sport has evolved from “garage band” to “rock star” status. The beauty of this sport is that the mentality of the athletes has remained the same. The humility of most premier fighters, and even most legends of the game is unprecedented in any other sport. Let me explain; do you think that you could run routes with Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant? Do you think you could ask Joe Montana how to throw a pass? Could you even get within 100 feet of Kobe Bryant?
My point is this; all across this great country are premier athletes working out in a gym near you. The accessibility of these top athletes is much more mainstream than the NFL, NBA, NHL or any other sport for that matter. If you want to pay your dues, you can walk into a gym and train with guys like Jens Pulver, Pat Militich and many others. If you want to be the best Mixed Martial Artist you can be, there are so many great gyms and great mentors who are more than willing to work with you. Now I’m not saying anyone could or should train with Brock Lesnar. I am simply saying that if you have the dream and the talent there are mentors and gyms out there that will help you. This is what makes Mixed Martial Arts the greatest sport in the world, the humility and the willingness to train with anyone that has the drive and desire. It is the true sport of kings.
In Bettendorf, Iowa, you can check out Miletich Fighting Systems and train around guys like Pat Miletich, Jens Pulver and Matt Hughes. In Albuquerque you can go into Jackson’s MMA with Gregg Jackson and train with greats like Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. In Vegas you can check out Xtreme Couture with the Natural, Randy Couture and see guys like Forrest Griffin and Evan Dunham. Or in Minneapolis you can check out Minnesota Martial Arts Academy with Gregg Nelson where Brock Lesnar and Sean Sherk trained. The list goes on and on.
Training in the world of Mixed Martial Arts has and always will be a blue-collar effort. It just seems as though the top athletes in this sport don’t forget where they come from and they give back to the sport much more than all other sports combined. There is a certain bond that the men and women that decide to step into the cage share. It is never broken, even after fame and fortune come, a true Mixed Martial Artist always returns to the gym. And that’s where you can find them doing what they have always done, training. There is a culture being built around that idea, and the underdog that no one expects to amount to anything is coming from places like Bettendorf, Iowa and rising to the top.
So remember today, the new sport of kings. The history that defines it is being rewritten with the blood, sweat and sacrifice of these men and women. This is where the passion of royalty has come to rest. And with it, all of us that love to take part in that passion.