Thursday, May 1, 2008

UWC “Invasion” Storms the D.C. Area; My First Foray Into The World of Mixed Martial Arts...

Folks, I covered my first mixed martial arts event last weekend in Fairfax, Va. It's a little different from the baseball fare, but yet was exciting to see.

It's not for the faint of heart.


It’s needless to say these days that the sport of mixed martial arts is on the rise and is part of the lexicon of the American sports landscape. In fact, it would probably be a gross understatement.
On Saturday, the mixed martial arts world came to the Washington Metropolitan region as the Ultimate Warrior Challenge‘s “Invasion” was held at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University. The event was only the second ever held at the Patriot Center, and drew a little under 5,000 people in spite of rainy conditions outside.

The crowd was uniquely diverse, almost all adult; however, unlike in most sporting events, the crowd seemed to be into the action from the beginning to the very end. When the action was hot, the crowd hollered and pumped up their fists in excitement. Having the opportunity to see the action from mere feet away, it was like you had been transported back to 125 B.C., where gladiators fought for victory, and more importantly, glory along with pride. Alas, when the audience was bored or was not impressed by what was going on, they booed, shouted “Boring!” or “Throw a punch!” and uttered expletives that cannot be mentioned in this piece.

Certainly not for the squeamish, the event was a nine fight card where the action took place in a ring, but probably would better be described as a cage with six sides to it, not a standard boxing ring. Obviously there was some blood spilled and heavy action, including one man earlier in the evening who seemed to be knocked unconscious. The event profiled some of most skilled fighters anywhere and after each fight, they were able to get up and walk out of the ring under their own power. No matter what you think of mixed martial arts as a sport, the athletes are no doubt finely tuned, competitive, and have a lot of pride in what they do.

The event ran a little longer than three hours; however, it went relatively quickly and also featured stars from the mixed martial arts world from various federations such as the ultra-popular UFC, Pride, and IFL, most notably, UFC’s Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, arguably one of the biggest names in the sport today. Unlike most sports where celebrities sit in the front rows, smile for the cameras and demand everything under the sun, the ones who were featured interacted with the crowd and posed for pictures, signed autographs, and chatted with fans as they walked through the arena – without agents or handlers around. The interaction along with the experience between the fighters and fans are what have driven people to the sport of mixed martial arts, aside from the violence and skill of the athletes.

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