Okay, so if BDSM isn’t your thing, how about watching guys beat the crap out of each other?
With the California State Athletic Commission‘s legalization of MMA (mixed martial arts) last December, UFC debuts in Southern California this Saturday with UFC 59: Reality Check at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, headlined by Tito Ortiz (one of two coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 3) vs. Forrest Griffin (winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter) in the Light Heavyweight division as well as Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia.
MMA is currently experiencing a surge in popularity similar to professional wrestling in the late 1990s, and according to UFC President Dana White, “The hotbed of MMA has always been California.” Indeed, “[UFC 59] sold out the 18,000-seat Pond in Anaheim in two days before a single fight was announced — and that’s with the cheapest ticket at $50 and no seats in the lower bowl priced under $200. An independently promoted show [called Strikeforce] in San Jose headlined by Frank Shamrock vs. Cesar Gracie on March 10 [drew] more than 10,000 fans.” And “On May 27, [at UFC 60,] Brazilian jujitsu master Royce Gracie–whose family is a legend in the world of cage-fighting–will battle welterweight titleholder Matt Hughes at Staples Center.”
For both upcoming Southern California shows, it’s particularly newsworthy that Armando Garcia of the CSAC is looking into making the sport safer by banning the throwing of elbows while fighters are on the ground as well as changing the fighters’ gloves from the existing four ounces to eight ounces. While changing to heavier gloves will further protect their hands, it’ll make submissions more difficult to attempt and sustain, which will probably result in additional punches to the head, thus leading to more concussions and brain trauma than submissions (and MMA promoters have bragged to the press about their sport being safer than boxing). As of this writing, I don’t know if these stipulations have been mandated for Saturday, but if they are, they will have huge repercussions on MMA as a whole since the industry has been trying to establish unified rules for itself on a national level.
More after the jump.
FWIW, Wikipedia has a rather informative entry about UFC and there is a great article in the San Francisco Chronicle from February that profiled MMA prior to the last month’s Strikeforce show (which was the first major MMA show in the state) at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
(Special thanks to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in the preparation of this article.)