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The Sport of MMA: Promotions vs Fighters

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Nothing get’s a good debate going with MMA fans faster than who’s the better fighter.  Jon Jones or Gustafson? Hendricks or Lawler? Diaz or name your pick. Bottom line is, fans are passionate about their favorite fighters. And rightfully so! We love what they do, the amazing athleticism they display, the inspiration they provide. That we can all become more than what we are, that we can rise above to compete, to do more than survive, to strive and be victorious.

To many fans, MMA fighters are veritable heroes. But there’s another argument that often rears it’s head, and this is one that perplexes me. The argument over which is the better promotion. Some fans get so passionate about their favorite promotion, they almost treat the promotion like their favorite sports team. But in the fight business, a promotion is not the same as a football team or basketball team or baseball or any team sport. Yeah, we refer to teams when we talk about training camps that some fighters may participate in, but the fact is MMA is not a team sport. Not today, not in it’s current format.

MMA is about two opponents having it out to see who’s the better athlete. It’s one-on-one. In each bout we have a favorite and that’s who we side with. So what’s all this talk about UFC vs Bellator vs WSOF vs One FC vs “insert name of promotion here”?

It makes no sense. The promotions are organizations that put on fights. They market them, they pay the fighters but they don’t “directly” compete with each other. If they do, it’s an incidental part of the business, but why should fans care what promotion they watch, so long as they get to see a good fight with great fighters? And what’s with all the fierce attacks defending or denouncing one promotion or another? If someone says UFC is the best, someone else might say WSOF is on the rise, then you get a massive debate about how all the fighters in WSOF are terrible, or how UFC is run by people they don’t like. Who cares? Honestly, who really cares?

When you think about it, if a fighter you like continues to perform and leaves UFC and goes to WSOF, does that make them a terrible fighter? Not really, but it’s undeniable that every promotion wants you to believe they are the best place to go to see the best fights. But it’s all relative, and without open cross promotional bouts there’s no real way to see who has the better fighters. You could look at stats all day and all night but until you’ve really done a direct test of two fighters matched against each other, you just never know what the outcome will be. And that is all part of the fun. Who’d want to watch a fight if they always knew who was going to win based on their record alone?

You may be thinking that there’s a valid argument to be made for supporting one promotion over another based on how they do business, and you could debate which promotion gives out better contracts or takes care of their fighters, which organization has more growth potential etc. But that doesn’t change the fact that each promotion may have at least one or two fighters that you’d enjoy seeing perform.

Personally, I’ll watch a fight whether it’s Glory, Bellator, UFC, WSOF, One FC, Titan FC or any organization. Why? Because good fights can be found all over the place. You just have to keep your eyes open. Once more fans start to realize that there’s more than just their favorite promotion then we may start to see even more excellent match ups and possibly even cross promotional bouts.

If promoter A wants to say that promoter B has inferior fighters, then they should prove that by having direct competition in the ring or cage. You can’t argue who is better when you haven’t had that actual one-on-one match! Everything else is speculation and conjecture.

To be fair, it’s totally ok for anyone to say they don’t like promotion A, B or C. They may not watch one or the other for any number of personal reasons and that’s just fine. Their choice. But it’s so tedious to deal with a conversation revolving around why you “shouldn’t” watch promotion B because promotion C is better. Or everyone wants to be in promotion A, there-fore you should only watch that. Everything else is terrible, right?

Wrong. There’s so many good fighters out there. So much talent. So many different bouts that aren’t even televised that you only wish you could have seen, if you knew about them. No matter what you want to believe, not Bellator, UFC, One FC, WSOF, Titan FC, Invicta or any other promotion will ever be able to find ALL and sign ALL the best fighters out there. It’s just impossible.

But what is possible, is that there’s a hell of a lot of good fighters in UFC, some pretty damn good ones in Bellator, and WSOF and One FC and so on. All of these promotions have at least some gems. Each and every one. Say what you will about the color, look, feel, taste, smell or what ever you want about how an event is handled and broadcast, but don’t be fooled by the illusion that any marketer might want you to believe that only their promotion is worth watching. If so you’ve just done yourself, as a fight fan, a disservice by closing off your mind to the opportunity to see some truly impressive fights.

One of the things that impressed me most about this last Friday night’s fights is that some how the stars and planets aligned in the world of combat sports to allow us all to watch both Bellator and UFC on the same night. And watch them live. That was a great opportunity to see good fights from both promotions. Now you could start to debate who had a better show that night, what the sum total of good vs great fights were between the two, but again that’s getting away from the point.

If you’ve been following SciFighting for a while, you’ve probably noticed we cover a lot of promotions here. And we are continually expanding on that. We also don’t play favorites. As a news organization we want to give all martial arts and mixed martial arts fans the most fair and unbiased reporting on events as they occur in the worlds of our favorite combat sports.

So, just look around, and look beyond what you think you know. You just might find your next favorite fighter in Glory World Series. Who knows. . . the only way to find out will be to look and see for yourself!

And remember this. It’s “the fighters” that make fights great!

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Luca Rajabi
Luca has been passionate about martial arts and eastern philosophies since childhood. As an athlete, inventor and entrepreneur Luca founded SciFighting on the principal lessons learned from his life experience "fighting" to preserve his health and fitness. Although born with inherently poor and inconsistent health he pushed forward to learn as much as he could about the sciences of technology, medicine and mental health. Years of study, working with physicians and combined analysis finally began to bare fruit by his early twenties. Starting with Fencing, cross training and body building then moving to Boxing, Western Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiujitsu, Eskrima and an eclectic assortment of self defense techniques. Luca's core philosophy is that to win a battle every fighter must balance their mental and physical health. Luca has said that "With well developed technique, conditioning and mental focus a sound strategy will most often win over brute strength alone." It is in this spirit that he passionately advocates for the "Science of Fighting".