Written by: Seamus
Written by Seamus M.
To read part one, click here
In part one of this piece on the new era in Mixed Martial Arts we looked at how athletes in the United States were likely to take advantage of the platform created by the T.U.F. Era. Today, we will examine how the macro-trends in globalization and economics make possible a higher level of international athletes to join MMA.
First, one important aspect of the current state of world economics is that the crises of 2008 was a much more difficult time in the “first world” than it was in the developing world. While the United States and nations in Europe are still struggling to recover from the mammoth meltdown of the financial sector, many others continued their rapid growth.
While India’s GDP growth dipped to 5.7% for a year, it returned to 9.7% growth by 2010. China’s GDP growth rate never fell below 9%. The B.R.I.C. nations, safely protected by their natural resources and rapidly growing population of working age people, show strong growth and little sign of stopping in the near future. The same is true of many African, Middle Eastern, and Asian markets as well. In addition to the raw numbers, Fareed Zakaria presents the case, The Post-American World that even some of the most American icons have been “fully appropriated by foreigners. The world’s largest Ferris Wheel is in Singapore. Its number one casino is not in Las Vegas but in Macacao, which has also overtaken Vegas in annual gambling revenues. The biggest movie industry…is Bollywood, not Hollywod.”
This rise in financial means has many obvious benefits for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts when it takes hold in those countries. A stronger and more vibrant economy can mean better training facilities, higher purses, larger organizations, and more travel opportunities for young aspiring fighters. The result is a much higher quality of fighter in the international community than what could have been produced ten years ago.
The sport already has a strong foothold in two of the previously mentioned B.R.I.C. nations. In addition to the improving, and relatively safe, economy, Russia has two notable fighters with international reputations in Fedor and Sergei Kharitonov that served as trailblazers in their home country for a future generation of international stars. The Russian contingent also has the added benefit for young fighters of a homegrown M-1 organization that can display young talent to the thriving MMA market in the United States.
Possibly the most under-rated aspect of the possibilities that exist for future Russian Mixed Martial Artists is the formidable base of wrestlers that Russia was once so synonymous for. Though the wrestling’s popularity has waned in recent years, Russian coaches are of the highest caliber and MMA now provides a professional outlet for the skills honed through wrestling. The opening is there and can provide a wealth of talent to MMA.
Anyone who has seen videos of Fedor training knows that there is certainly room for technological improvement to hone that talent. They are likely to soon have the finances to drastically improve training and nutrition at all levels of Russian MMA.
While many note the impressive number of Brazilian fighters at the highest level of the sport, this is actually likely to grow in the future. Not only is Brazil’s economy one of the fastest growing in the world, fueled by a wealth of resources, but the base of knowledge and the sport’s popularity is already there! Brazil’s wealth of fighting gyms and knowledge can lead to an unprecedented growth in the amount of successful Brazilian fighters in the coming generation.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, led by very capable people, is far from ignorant of these trends. Quite the contrary, they are counting on it. (Well, maybe just already counting the money that will come from it.) In 2008, Lorenzo Fertitta left his duties with his family’s casino empire to focus on international expansion and marketing of the UFC. In recent years, there have been visits to Abu Dhabi, Great Britain, Canada, and Europe. Brazil is on the docket for fall, with Japan or China likely in the future after that. This effort is not only to bring money into the pockets of the company, but also to increase the awareness and popularity of the sport internationally in much the same way that the NBA did through the 1990’s and early 2000’s. In 15 years, the UFC is likely to see the payoff in a new breed of international stars that will come much more athletic and better trained than previous incarnations.
The last six years in Mixed Martial Arts have seen the sport grow rapidly in both popularity and financial success. This has provided a platform for the athletes that will be far more attractive to the top tier of athletes in America as well as for an international community that is far better prepared than ever to produce top fighters. Because of the foundation laid through the T.U.F. era, a new chapter in the history of the sport is about to begin. This chapter will be filled with a higher quality of athlete in general, and will likely be especially highlighted by an even higher level of American wrestler being represented.
Thank you for reading! If you would like me to keep you up to date of future articles, emails me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me @SeamusManley on Twitter. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought, I’d love any and all feedback.