Andrew Mulligan: Time to embrace UFC

Conor McGregor was upset by Nate Diaz at UFC 196. Photo / Getty
Conor McGregor was upset by Nate Diaz at UFC 196. Photo / Getty

Hey UFC fans. Here's a lament for you. I feel sorry for you. I'm not a fanatical follower of the sport and what I know of MMA and why the UFC is popular could easily be put on the back of an octagon-shaped stamp.

I know you've heard all the arguments hurled at your sport but I feel your pain like an arm bar. "It's full of drugs cheats." So is athletics. "It's legalised violence." So is boxing. "It rips off the poor fighters to make the UFC owners richer." So does professional sport worldwide.

I watched the most compelling weekend of sport, with the Lions beating the Chiefs in Hamilton and the Warriors producing the worst half of league we've seen them play and then almost win it.

And you know what I remember the most? Conor McGregor losing straight after Holly Holm in UFC 196 on Sunday afternoon.

If you don't know who they are, look them up. Holm is a former champion boxer and McGregor is the most brazen Irishman since U2 thought they could put a mediocre album on your iPhone without you knowing.

Both were heavy favourites and both lost in stunning fashion.

UFC fans know this. No point saying how cool it was or how you "called it" pre-fight because you know your combat sports but the last thing you need to hear from me is just how popular and powerful the rise of UFC and MMA is worldwide. It won't make the sports news at 6pm unless there's a Kiwi angle because there's too much blood and it's deemed too violent for that time of the night.

Fair enough. Can't have kids watching that stuff because goodness knows what they'll do. Probably what we did when the WWF and WWE was on TV. You know, smash each other on the trampoline: body slams, pile-drivers and suplexes. All attempted because of what we saw on TV. Crazy, and kids were injured too. Kids get injured in rugby through tackling, so why not remove that from the game? Actually, scrap that. What a silly idea.

Schools cracked down on the imitation wrestling we attempted and it was heavily monitored by teachers and parents. Except now kids go off to judo, karate, jiu-jitsu and wrestling training and learn those skills like most MMA fighters in the UFC began.

I know of a kid who has ADHD. His family found it hard to stimulate him so they tried wrestling and MMA training and haven't looked back.

The discipline, courage and training all gave him an outlet and an opening into a world where he could channel his energies. Pretty cool, if you ask me, UFC fans.

It does look like prison violence but I've seen those shots of our Serco-run jails and those guys wouldn't last five seconds in the Octagon.

Sure, some American state athletic commissions don't let them have it and it's not perfect.

There might be comments on online UFC stories knocking it but the one thing that amazes me about UFC is how much traffic it generates for - more than Super Rugby.

I hope your sport is embraced faster, UFC fans, and that mainstream media give it more love. UFC 196 was the best $29.99 I've spent since buying Achtung Baby on CD.

- NZ Herald

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