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MMA Fighter

The Real Poop

Glutton for punishment, anyone?

First ask: "What on earth happened to me in my childhood to make me WANT this job?" Some therapy related to daddy's bullying might avoid lots of physical pain in your future….

You may have watched the UFC on Pay Per View and thought it would be fun to bounce around like that on the mat, locking horns with other competitors. We'll see if you still feel that way after you've taken a few hundred hammerfists to the sternum. Oh, and if you’re 5'6" and weigh 120 pounds…you need read no further. Go get yourself a business degree or something. You can still watch it on TV. 

Any career path with the word "fighter" as part of the name is bound to be a dangerous one. However, when you consider the virtually no-holds-barred nature of MMA fighting, the danger is increased ten-fold. Choke hold? Legal. Yanking an opponent’s leg or pulling their toes? Hyper rotating your opponent’s arm? Legal. There's also a submission move called "the Guillotine" which is perfectly acceptable. Changes have been made to the format in recent years in an attempt to protect fighters and legitimize the sport, but you are still basically trying to pulverize the other guy (or gal). It's hard to accomplish that lofty goal without getting at least a little messy.

MMA fighting has some pretty deep roots—the sport is derived from an ancient Greco-Roman Olympic sport called Pankration (probably named after the move of reaching into an opponent's body and forcibly removing their pancreas). MMA fighting draws from this sport the combination of striking and grappling skills, which makes it something like boxing meets wrestling meets karate. It is a hodgepodge of all fighting skills, which is why the UFC feels that it can call its greatest athlete the Ultimate Fighting Champion—the one who has mastered the greatest number of disciplines. Still, the sport feels like an analog for the bullied-as-littles who need to administer noogies and wet willies to feel powerful, or at least good about themselves.

Or maybe there really is a greater glory, even an art form, in being the dominant one in the ring. Maybe this sport is about offense and conquering proactively, winning, demonstrating talent, skill, tenacity, guts. Maybe it's not, in fact, a fight against a ghost from the past. Regardless, blood-sports get great ratings on TV, and as long as people will pay to watch, MMA will be a hot ticket. (If you need any proof, note the number of hockey fights and woo-licks you see on EPSN Sunday nights…a "woo-lick" is when the guy is hit so hard the crowd goes, "Woo" before the stretcher comes out.) Welcome to ancient Rome circa 20something. "Gladiator" isn’t something the well-fed cannibal said.

In a UFC bout, two competitors meet inside a large, 8-sided enclosure referred to as "The Octagon." (Still not nearly as much fighting as takes place inside the Pentagon.) They then go at each other for a predetermined number of rounds with 1-minute breaks in-between. The match is finally decided by knockout, by submission (one of the fighters waves the white flag), or by judge's decision. Those determined by judge's decision aren’t as decisive or as much fun as those determined by knockout, but at least you get your money's worth!

A fighter's promoter or manager sets up the fight and makes sure that the fighter gets paid (after taking their own cut, of course). He may also coordinate whatever other business deals you may be involved in—endorsements, commercials, Pay Per View bonuses, etc. A fighter really can’t handle this stuff on his own. It wouldn't be a good idea to put someone whose head has been bashed in that many times in charge of their own finances and business dealings. So he has to find someone he trusts not to screw him over, and hand over the reins.

As with any professional sport, the promise of glory, the validation of one’s physical prowess, the prospect of major paydays, and the time in the spotlight can be tempting considerations to anyone who doesn't get squeamish at the sight of blood or incorrectly folded limbs. It's all about you—alone—and nothing else. Doesn't matter if you're smart, doesn't matter if you're a team player. However, as with any professional sport, the chances of realizing your goals—or of being happy and wealthy even if you do—are slim to none. Well if that isn't just a crescent kick right to your dreams.

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