MMA Promoter Wants to Use Asian Politics to Put Asses in Seats

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has become the fastest growing sport in the world. There’s no denying it. In terms of growth, nothing comes close.

MMA gyms around the world are packed with men, women, and children, young and old, any political ideology, and pretty much the full spectrum of religious backgrounds. The reasons for this desire to learn to fight vary from self-defense, self-confidence, a new exercise routine, or a new stable of like-minded friends (or all of these) to the young guy or girl who dreams about being the next hot MMA prospect.


One reason to learn to fight that is most certainly not included is politics, no matter how hard the promoter of the largest MMA organization in the world pretends for it to be there, it’s just not.

Dana White, the straight-talking, oft-opinionated President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gave an interview to Bloomberg recently discussing his desire to get sport combatants from Japan, South Korea, and China into the ring to let some nationalistic sparks fly.

To the casual (or clueless) viewer this sounds rather crazy, especially with all the political games being spun and played in the region… hell, even the discussion of this sounds somewhat counterintuitive to peace and diplomacy, right?

But the reality is that those naïve viewers, and the government and military hawks that Dana is possibly trying to entice and antagonize, will most likely be disappointed when both competitors fight until the bitter end and then hug and show their sincere respect for one another after one hand is raised.

MMA fighters are some of the most respectful athletes on the planet. They huff and puff before their matches to help with ticket sales, but afterwards they are highly respectful of the other opponent’s abilities, heart, and the sacrifice it took for each other to reach the peak of the fight. Professional MMA training camps are brutal. Those fights viewers are paying to watch are the climatic end of an 8-week long saga of blood, sweat, and tears for both fighters, even if some fights last less than a minute.

I don’t deny that these potential matchups create a bit of intrigue for the unenlightened, but it’s nothing new to the more mature MMA audience that make up an important base for Dana. The Japanese have been in the combat sport promotion business a lot longer than Dana has, and cross promotions between Japan and South Korea have been going on for at least 10 years or more. Moreover, Japanese martial artists and sport combatants have battled it out with South Korean fighters for decades, more often in each other’s backyard. Dana knows this, of course, but he has a business to promote, so the talk must surpass the reality of the situation.

The only sure thing that will eventually be showcased if Dana uses politics to promote an MMA tournament between Japan, South Korea, and China is that politics is not an absolute, but instead is conditional and needy.

H/T: Bloomberg