Mixed-Martial-Arts is a sport. Yeah, you read it right. It's a sport. Heck, it's even a vastly popular sport. And it's coming to Atlanta via Phillips Arena on September 6th by way of UFC 88 which will be one of the organizations major pay per view events this year. For a large number of people, mixed-martial-arts is the primal definition of sportsmanship.
Over the next few weeks, I will blog about the coming UFC event and serve (for lack of better words) as a local ambassador for those Fresh Loaf readers who possibly dislike or misunderstand the sport of mixed-martial-arts. Or even those curious few still sitting on the metaphorical fence. In the coming weeks leading up to the event, I hope to at least achieve the goal of transforming the often negative cliche of mixed-martial-arts and its fan base.
What is often conceived as a horde of knuckle-dragging-neanderthal-meatheads are many times articulate athletes who have often graduated college, participated in collegiate wrestling programs and some even trained for past Olympic games. Much less those determined athletes who have spent decades in the ranks of amateur martial arts leagues sacrificing their health and safety to simply exercise their hard-earned talents most times for paychecks not high enough to cover the occasional medical bill.
It's a bit surprising that the city of Atlanta hasn't been visited by the UFC during the past three years of its popularity spike. After all, Atlanta has its own respectable martial arts scene, a long history of boxing and the city hosts an obvious and reasonably successful stable of professional sports franchises from football to baseball and beyond. And make no mistake about it. The UFC is on a mission here.
The UFC, which normally airs live from Las Vegas, has previously held events in other cities around the United States. The Southeast, however, has been all but overlooked in recent years. The UFC has even expanded recently into countries including Canada and the United Kingdom with others such as Mexico, Germany and even the Philippines on the radar.
I'll toy with the lock of a Pandora's box by saying that some of the entertainment stereotypes of the South are essential ingredients in the sport of MMA's greater growth and expansion. Atlanta, for example, is a city with a massive NASCAR base and strong remnants of Ted Turner's former WCW professional wrestling empire left scattered about.
Although many martial artists and MMA fans will grimace at such comparisons, fans of stock car racing and 'rasslin' are merely a fragment of potentially untapped demographics within other various sports entertainment sources that fit the basic criteria of potential MMA fans. And this is possibly the target for which the UFC aims.
After all, in order to grow the sport of mixed-martial-arts and boost attendance and pay-per-view buys, the UFC has to rise above the already converted loyalty and expand into other realms. And a live UFC event is typically an explosive experience which is easily compared to tossing all of the exciting elements of a football game, monster truck show, boxing match and rodeo into one fast-paced-sports-entertainment-blender. UFC events are purposely choreographed as sensory overload.
And this is not even mentioning the actual fights. When the fights are good, the entire experience seems like a special championship which is usually restricted to a once-per-year affair for other sports genres. But the UFC pulls off this sort of promotion nearly every month.
Beyond the occasional roadside billboard or radio spot advertising the UFC 88 event, however, I suspect that the city of Atlanta is not exactly braced what's to come during the first week of September.
You might want to refer to the last time Atlanta hosted the NFL Superbowl. I'll never forget getting caught myself in traffic and revelry not seen since the last Freaknik.
UFC 88 potentially presents this sort of excitement and action. Just for perspective's sake, consider that the majority of fighters on a UFC fight card normally host their own celebrations at local bars. These after-parties are a potential economic opportunity for downtown and possibly even midtown nightlife establishments as much as they can be a temporary inconvenience for those uninterested and incidentally caught up in the aftermath.
This special Fresh Loaf coverage of MMA and the approaching UFC 88 event will climax with a special sports edition podcast where our downtown offices will be briefly invaded by several important local figures involved in Georgia's own locally thriving MMA scene. And Fresh Loaf will also preview the UFC 88 event.
Tagged as "Full Contact Talk," an expert panel of mixed-martial-arts professionals will discuss the sport in detail and focus in the end on the UFC and even make fight picks amongst other fun features of interest to MMA fans of all types.
The Fresh Loaf podcast guest list includes veteran UFC fighter, Rory Singer who also owns the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia and trains numerous professional fighters. Rory originally trained the current UFC light heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin and continues to bring new fighters into the national spotlight. Other guests include the President of Knuckle-Up Fitness, Chris Stolzman and Atlanta-based fight promoter David Oblas. UFC fighter and recent star of SPIKE TV's Ultimate Fighter Reality show, Cale Yarbrough will be on hand as well as WEC fighter, Brian Bowles. Up-and-comer local MMA star Douglas Lima will attend alongside his trainer and professional kickboxer from both K-1 and World Combat League, Mark Selbee. Fighter agent and former MMA fight judge Frank Bishop rounds out the panel.
Check the Full Contact Talk site for updates on MMA leading up to UFC 88. Next we'll discuss the history of mixed-martial-arts.
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