Not everyone is on board with Mixed Martial Arts yet, but more and more sports fans are getting accustomed to our sport. With the increased popularity of the sport, it’s becoming mainstream and it’s just getting started.

To the uninformed, people who aren’t into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), the fights seem unconventional compared to more widely accepted arts like boxing, wrestling and karate. Oddly enough, MMA is a combination of the three with elements of many other arts incorporated. The sport has evolved many times over to most effectively control, submit or knock out a true resisting opponent.

I compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which most involved with the sport simply call the UFC. It’s not the Ultimate Street Fight and it’s not the Ultimate Dog Fight. I might be offended by the writer’s comments if he were more informed or took the time to actually research the facts. If the writer knew how much safer the UFC was than boxing, he would not have likened it to dog fighting.

As part of an upcoming sport, it’s my job to not only fight in the ring but also be an ambassador to the sport. There are over 200 fighters under contract in the UFC, which is the NFL of Mixed Martial Arts promotions. Many of these fighters come from diverse backgrounds and are graduates from some of the best schools in the country.

Miguel Torres of East Chicago, Indiana paid his way through school by fighting while others were tending bar. Miguel earned a degree in marketing from Purdue University. Miguel is the current WEC Bantamweight champion.

Former UFC Middleweight champion Rich Franklin is a former math teacher from Cincinnati with a master’s degree in Education, Jim Miller attended Virginia Tech and Brock Lesnar was an NCAA wrestling champion and is the current UFC Heavyweight Champion. Some have master’s degrees while others have bachelors. There are really too many to list.

Frank Mir was raised in a true martial arts family and earned a black belt in Karate at the age of 12. Frank won a state wrestling championship in high school at 17 and earned a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu in three and a half short years. Frank’s stage eventually became an Octagon surrounded by plastic coated chain link fence. It’s within this Octagon that he shows the world his martial arts skills and shares his valuable message of perseverance with the world as he is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. You would be hard pressed to find a more articulate man in any professional sport.

Our sport has been likened to dog fighting which anyone will say is cruel. Dogs have no choice and are bred to fight, injure and maim the other dog. They are kept in poor conditions and are anything but family pets.

Fighters on the other hand make up their own minds regarding their career path, just like you have done. I choose to compete in mixed martial arts for the competition of it all. I love to compete and the UFC has the best fighting conditions, best referees, the best doctors and an outstanding safety record. Fights are stopped at the first sign of a fighter being unable to defend himself or the first sign that the fighter does not want to continue.

It is my job to not only inform the original writer but also all of those that he has misinformed. I appreciate that everyone has their own opinion but I get to express mine as well. I do not believe the writer has been to a dog fight, nor has he been to a UFC fight, or met with a 40 year old boxer with a slur from taking thousands of shots to the head. I also doubt he has taken a look at a punch count showing a comparison of what a mixed martial arts fighters takes versus that of a boxer.
Boxing averages 11 deaths per year. In the over 15 year history of Mixed Martial Arts, there has been one death in the United States and it was not in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Long before its incarnation that we see today, pankration was the original form of mixed martial arts. It was truly the first fighting system in human history and was used by Ancient Greeks back in 648 BC. US Soldiers today practice mixed martial arts to prepare for hand to hand combat. Myself and many other UFC fighters have gone all around the world (Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc) to work with and help train our nations troops.

Tighter rules along the way have helped, in addition to strict supervision by a state appointed sanctioning body. Fighters are required to go through a laundry list of medical testing before every fight. Before my first fight in the UFC I had to see about 7 different doctors and specialists just to get licensed. I had to have a physical, blood work for Hepatitis and HIV, an MRI, an ophthalmologic exam and a few EEG’s. In some cases, I saw specialists both at home and then the commission’s own specialists. It turns out, fighter safety is always the number one priority.

It’s a poor comparison between sports where fighter safety is so important to dog fighting where safety is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

I can’t help but liken the article to the way a lot of lazy college students write papers. They form their uninformed opinion and then write their paper based on their own preconceived notions. It’s pretty easy to run a quick online search for information on the web to support your point of view.

Generally though, even lazy college students are bright enough to use information that is less than 10 years old to back up their claims. I eagerly await this particular writer’s future shocking pieces about Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affairs and how all computers are going to go haywire for Y2k. Let’s get with the times.

Writers, among others, loves to sensationalize things. This case is no different. This particular Boston Globe writer is calling our sport “human dog fighting” while another LA Times columnist writes about the crowd being hungry for blood. No doubt, these two writers will be referencing and quoting one another for a long time about the barbarism that is supposedly in our sport. In the day and age when everyone has an online blog, you can always find someone who shares your opinion. Regardless of what the ignorant claim, Mixed Martial Arts fights are between two willing competitors that at the professional level have spent considerate amounts of time improving their skills in a number of Olympic sports.

These sports include boxing, wrestling, karate, judo, tae kwon do and jiu-jitsu. All ages and levels of experience are encouraged to participate in these sports. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was started by Rorion Gracie to show the world the validity of his family’s style of jiu-jitsu. The best representatives of all these other martial arts were pitted against one another and Rorion’s family were the victors in the end.

The UFC was never about a blood sport even though the original promoters let if flirt with that line. Back then, the sport was new and there was no regulation. The times have changed and modern day mixed martial arts has grown and is very safe. The sport is highly regulated and is one of the safest in the world.

To read the original article that sparked this, go here.

To email Peter Funt and let him know what you think of our sport, send an email with your comments here.

To email the editor of the Boston Globe, send your comments here.