It seems I draw a lot of inspiration to write after watching MMA fights. UFC 217 was yesterday, and it was the most action-packed fight card I’ve seen since I started following combat sports 3 years ago. Three championship belts were on the line, and three new champions were crowned. These new champions were all betting underdogs.
At it’s core, MMA is an art that establishes an emphasis on honor and respect. Rose Namajunas(New Champion) mentioned that yesterday. She was a heavy underdog, and came out with a first round KO against a long-time champion in Joanna Jedrzejczyk. TJ Dillashaw(New Champion) and Cody Garbrandt exchanged so many insults with each other, and have a bad personal history. Still, after Dillashaw KO’d his opponent in the 2nd round, he set his personal differences aside and had nice words to say to a person he genuinely does not like. There are very few exceptions, but most fighters show respect to his/her opponent once that finishing bell rings, no matter how they might personally feel about them. At the end of the day, there is no fight without the opponent, and for that reason alone, you should be compelled to respect him/her.
To be successful, whatever that may mean to you, you must honor both yourself and your opponent. Your opponent might come in the form of a midterm, a job, and so on. It’s imperative to respect the challenges of your situation. I feel I get a better understanding of this as I train, and study MMA.
A fight takes two willing contenders to step into a ring or octagon. These fighters are utterly exposed to show what the accumulation of their past lives has brought into the ring. Georges St. Pierre(New Champion) says a fighter needs to consider three things: their physical well-being, emotional well-being, and mental well-being. If one of these things are not up to par relative to your opponent, you may come in with a serious disadvantage.
GSP and Joanna Jedrzejczyk speak of the challenges of being a champion. The difficulty is in keeping the mindset of a challenger. The challenger often has a more insatiable hunger than the champion who overlooks his/her challengers. GSP stopped fighting 4 years ago, telling his fans that the pressure was too much for him to take. He was constantly on edge, realizing that after every challenger he beat, there was another obsessed challenger with different skillsets in line waiting for his turn at the belt.
The end result is a winner and a loser. On rare occasion there is a draw, but these are usually settled with a rematch sometime in the future. In our world filled with participation trophies in so many shapes and forms, it’s a relief to many to see the near-binary decision-making in sports like cage fighting. These men and women put their lives on the line for entertainment, and so much more. For so many, it’s the only thing they have world-class talent in, and the only way they can make a living.
MMA is a sport that showcases the triumphs and the struggles of our human existence. It reminds us of what life was once like, when the distance between life and death wasn’t so falsely separated as it is now in our culture. It reminds us that there are no such things as immortals. No fighter is invincible, no matter how much the media may try to portray a person. It reminds us that sometimes our best is not enough, but the only way to know is to try anyway to be the best versions of ourselves. There is no alternative. We are all equalized in death, and this should remind us to live our lives honestly and virtuously.