Mixed martial artists are the gladiators of today

Fedor EmelianenkoThese gladiators stepping into the octagon do not carry swords, shields, spears, or wear armor. They step in with only their wits, their hands in four ounce gloves, a pair of shorts and their bare feet. There is no being fed to the lions if you lose, but there is always the chance of being knocked out, choked out, or just being thoroughly beaten up. Fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Dan Henderson compete because this sport is the closest thing to no holds barred fighting as you can get. These gladiators are not brawlers or undisciplined fighters. They are highly skilled, well trained and, very disciplined at their craft. In order to be successful in this sport you have to be all of the above or you will have a very short lived career.

What is a mixed martial artist? He or she is a combination of a boxer, a wrestler, and a martial artist. The martial arts portion encompasses a lot of different styles of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muy Thai, Tae Kwon Do, and Judo to name a few. Using this combination of skills the fighter have a multitude of weapons at their disposal to help them win the fight. By the time these gladiators get to the professional ranks, they are some of the most well-conditioned and mentally tough individuals on the planet. Some have been competing in one sport or another all their lives and just want a higher level of competition or they come into the sport and learn it from the ground up. In any event it makes the sport one of the most exciting sports to either participate or watch as a spectator.

This competition puts one fighter’s skill against another fighter’s skills. Most of the time the decision comes down to whom has the stronger will to win. Some fighters like to fight standing throwing punches and kicks. Then some like fighting from the ground using their grappling and submission skills to their advantage. Some use the combination of both standing and ground game to win their fights.

There is much to be said when a competitor can take his or her battery of skills and make another competitor submit (Tap out) to the other fighter’s will to win. Some fighters are so committed to not submitting they will not tap out or will not quit under any circumstances. Tapping out to them is like quitting, and is not acceptable to their mindset. To some that might sound extreme, to let themselves get a broken bone or go to sleep rather than tap out, to others it is a point of honor. To say that no matter how much pain or lack of oxygen I have, I will not submit. Some fighters do not know anything but fighting and competing, but there is a larger number that are very cerebral and intelligent and do not have to fight. All the fighters that I have watched over many years fight because they love what they do. Many are very quiet people until they get into the octagon and the adrenalin starts pumping and then out comes the gladiator. Then there are others who are loud and boisterous are ready even before they step into the octagon.

In my opinion the very cerebral fighter who never gets rattled no matter what his situation in the octagon is, he finds a way to win and is the most fun to watch. That is when you see those last second knockouts or last second submissions. Being able to intelligently defend yourself while being low on stamina or oxygen is something to see. The fighter who will continually keep coming after being hit or kicked, or keeps getting up after being knocked down. I have seen fighters with deep cuts, lacerations, bruised and battered and they still continue to fight. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to take that kind of beating. You have to respect not only the mental and physical toughness but, just the sheer will to win. The never say die attitude. Having that type of mental outlook, not only works in the octagon, but it is carried into their everyday life.

Watching these modern day gladiators compete is something to behold. In this day and age the crowds are just like the ones of the past who seem to have that thirst for action and competition. Again, there is no thumbs’ down, and being thrown to the lions if you lose, so I say thumbs up to all of these modern day gladiators. I applaud your efforts.

Mike Samuels is a writer for The Sports Blitz and can be contacted at MSamuels@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com