Into The Pit: Breaking Into The Mainstream

I recently ran into some old friends from high school on MySpace. I hadn’t talked to some of these guys since I graduated in 1991. It was interesting catching up with them, finding out what they’ve been doing (or not doing) since then. What I found even more interesting is how ignorant most of them are about mixed martial arts.

We talk a lot, and by “we” I mean MMA journalists (I use this word very loosely in my case), about the rising popularity of MMA and its invasion into the mainstream. Hell, Inside Pulse is, at its core, a pop culture website. When I first started here, nearly two years ago, I never would have imagined that my ridiculous, profanity-laced tirades about the sport I love would inspire an entire section of the site dedicated to combat sports. I see coverage on ESPN now, I see articles in newspapers across the country, I see fighters making talk show appearances. As a fan, and a writer, I think, “MMA has hit the big time!” While that might be true in some circles, it still isn’t a household sport…yet.

Several of my aforementioned friends asked about my interest in MMA, and why I write for this site. I got a lot of, “UFC is like WWF, but in a cage, right?” I didn’t know what to do first; inform them of the name change to WWE, or go off on one of my infamous tirades about how f*cking clueless they are about UFC. I took the high road and gave them a brief explanation of what UFC, and MMA, is all about. I think only one of them really got it. The rest all had one of two responses: “Oh, so like boxing and WWE combined?” or “Hmm, whatever. Sounds boring.”

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. I’ve had both friends that I actually still speak to on a regular basis and family members ask, “what’s all this UFC stuff about?” I normally waste my breath, explaining the finer points of the sport, only to be hit with, “oh, so it’s like if wrestling wasn’t fake…” Yes, that’s exactly what I said. Glad I explained that to you for the last twenty minutes. Beat it, stupid.

It’s these kind of encounters that make me realize that when I’m writing this stuff, I’m writing it for people like you; MMA fans. More than likely I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. Sure, in a casual conversation I might be able to school your ass with random-ass facts and stats that my twisted brain can remember, while not being able to remember to take the trash out, but this is the Internet. You can look that shit up anywhere and be a smarty-pants at parties, too.

The people I need to reach out to are the ones like my friends from high school, my cousin I only talk to at funerals, or that guy in Target who looked at my shirt and just had to know, “what’s a ‘Rampage Jackson’?” The sport of mixed martial arts is exploding right now, what with all the television exposure and all. There are more and more fans tuning in to weekly TV shows and buying pay-per-views. Yet I’m still amazed at how many people out there still don’t get it, or even know what it actually is. Hell, just look at the state of Iowa and the total disaster happening with MMA regulation.

While I like that there is a new generation of fans getting on board, it goes beyond just getting people to tune in to all the various television shows. These people need a f*ckin’ education. They need to understand why these guys (and girls) go out there and put it all on the line and punish their opponents, and themselves. I suppose, in time, they will understand. I also hope that they learn to respect the sport and the fighters in the same way that we do.

In the meantime guys like me will be here, typing away, waiting for them to catch up with the rest of us. Just think, in no time there will be even more people signing up on MMA forums, hating Tito Ortiz and making fun of Herb Dean. Ain’t life great?