Thursday, July 12, 2012

Does the FOX/UFC opening intro hurt or help the MMA image?

I am happy that the UFC has gone mainstream via the relationship between UFC and FOX.  Truly, I am.  I am excited and definitely not surprised that MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world.; The sport and the athletes deserve a growing audience to witness the strategic art form that MMA is.  I am in the minority, as a business woman, when I attend board room meetings with CEO's, Vice Presidents and Directors not because I am a woman, but because my sport of choice isn't baseball, basketball, football, soccer or golf.  My sport of choice is MMA, reality fighting, gladiator style.  You can hear a pin drop every time I proudly admit that I am a huge fan of UFC and the elite fighters that fight with such heart.  After the initial silence, the degrading comments begin about how "the fighters are knuckle heads" and how "they aren't the brightest bulbs on the tree" or "it's so violent how can you stand to watch it?"  It's always the same judgements.  I still haven't figured out who ends up more shocked….the
CEO with whom I (age 42, all of 5 feet and 110 lbs) just shared that I  am a fan of UFC or me because he hasn't got a clue as to the fighter's names, the difference between Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and ground and pound or who fought in and won in the last paper view.  These are some of the reasons why I am grateful that UFC and the fighters are unveiled on a venue such as FOX.  

MMA isn't about athletes who protect their bodies with specially designed padding and even though the fighters rely upon a team when training they are in the cage alone.  They do not have a line of defenders.  These elite athletes are the aggressor and the defender of their mental and physical strength utilizing their warrior strategies, creativity, hard core training and most importantly their heart.  To be fair, I am confident that other sport athletes work their behinds off.  I know they are considered heroes and are paid homage to, by their adoring fans.  I take nothing away from their fans, careers and the journeys that other professional athletes took to get them where they are today.  I respect anyone who works hard, period.  Mainstream athletes are deserving of a heroes welcome and introduction like we see during an NFL game.  I happen to feel that the intro to an NFL game is commercialized and over produced, however.  I get it….sensationalize, mesmerize, attract and retain the fans, increase revenue for sponsors, etc.  It really doesn't matter what the reason.  The NFL opening fits the NFL culture. 

However, the UFC gladiators deserve a more dignified setting and introduction than what FOX has produced thus far.  The new UFC/FOX opening is a copy cat of Monday Night Football.  Really?  Did FOX and UFC have to go there?  When "millions and millions of people are watching this sport for the first time" according to Dana White, The MMA Digest, why would the decision be made to make the UFC intro similar to the intro of an NFL game?  In The MMA Digest video above, Dana White said how John Landgraf, FX Network President, and his team gave Dana a lot of great ideas on how to "educate new people that are going to watch UFC for the first time," yet I can't help feel that FOX and UFC's decisions combined have let down UFC fans to the point of a near insult.  UFC fighters and their fans do not need gimmicks, flashing lights, CGI graphics to sell, tease or intrigue people.  They just need the octagon and the opportunity to prove which is the better fighter of the night.  We need more interviews and documentaries about where and how the fighters got started, to learn about the MMA schools, the MMA culture here in the states and globally and to understand MMA values.   UFC just needs to share the truth behind the sport.  MMA is a no frills sport and should be portrayed in the light of reality and the truth that it is, a calculated dance of the mind, body, spirit and the heart of a human who has the courage to test themselves to a limit that many of us can't fathom.  Most of us have no idea what is in the mind of an elite fighter or the mental stamina it takes to push through pain to create a reality that defies most beliefs. This alone is appeal enough.  If an introduction is going to be imitated it would have been refreshing and quite frankly, more appropriate to retain the gladiator theme.  Or an opening similar in style to a soccer or golf tournament, shown here. and  A style that is more reality based and less sensationalized.  I am not comparing the sports, just the dignity that is part of these sport cultures.  Don't change the UFC music though.  It fits perfectly!  

In a world that is so pumped up with hype, deceit, manipulation and corrupt politicians.  Where high value is placed on pop culture and where people identify themselves by the amount of toys, trips, things, things and more things.  Where people would rather connect with material objects and "tasks" than to themselves and their families; I would think that the history of UFC, its fans, the art MMA, how it truly is a global phenomenon and the integrity of the sport is enough to sell to the general public, with the help of the FOX stage.  We all can be true students and learn something from MMA and the elite fighters.   FOX and UFC have seven years to go back to the drawing board and create an introduction that is fitting of a warrior and appropriately displays the dignity and integrity that is MMA.  My hope is that they create an opening that is in alignment with the sport sooner rather than later.

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