The Ultimate Fighting Championship was the first sports organization in America to return to play since being paused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It staged its first major professional sports event on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida, where lightweights Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje faced off in UFC 249.
Dana White, President of UFC, never wanted to cease operations. In April, he announced that he would rent a private island for the events to be held. It was declared in June that he has successfully secured a private island in Abu Dhabi.
The organization built an octagon in Yas Island, and it will host four events in the cage. White came up with the idea to rent a private island to accommodate international fighters who have struggled to enter the US because of travel restrictions. He gladly tweeted on social media a picture of the octagon under construction that said, “Fight Island baby!!! #YasIsland.”
Why We Love Watching Two People Fight
UFC held competitions in tents during the 1990s and has soared in growth, despite running into numerous hurdles, to be labeled as the signature franchise of mixed martial arts and airing on ESPN with a $1.5 billion television rights deal. It has unique and appealing factors that made people all around the world love the sport.
MMA is not just about two people facing off against each other and throwing blows and near-lethal kicks at each other’s faces. The thrill comes from the various techniques that the athletes possess.
Fans and viewers anxiously watch the two fighters attacking and defending against Brazilian jiu-jitsu and American wrestling moves, or karate kicks and boxing jabs. The knockouts and celebrations from your favorite fighter can do the trick, as well.
Dr. Bhrett McCabe, a sports psychologist, explained the idea of being present at a fight with just enough distance between you and the fighters as providing people with a guilt-free viewing experience. Fighters are viewed almost like Tekken characters and the audience gets close, but not too close to the blood.
“We were three rows back from the cage, and you could hear the fists hitting the chest, and the air leaving the lungs,” said McCabe to the New York Times. “And you’re sitting there, and it’s this moment between ‘I don’t want to see a broken leg, but I also want to see a victory.’ It’s this weird psychological moment.”
Unlike boxing where serious injuries occur and big-name boxers avoids fights to preserve their records, MMA holds a widespread mentality that fighters should not shy away from such challenges. For instance, Conor McGregor never backed away from a fight, win or lose, and even fought boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, which brought him more UFC fans due to his boldness.
UFC and President Donald Trump
Dana White took over as president of UFC in the early 2000s. He realized that he needed to work with the government to run toward regulation to turn it into a recognized sport.
The New Jersey Athletic Commission approved the competition and UFC 30 was held on Feb 23, 2001, at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which President Trump facilitated. White praised Trump for giving them an opportunity to make it an official sport.
President Trump attended the UFC back in November with his two sons at Madison Square Garden. When UFC announced its return, Trump congratulated them on the return and said, “We want our sports back.”