So there I was in another airport trying to find a breakfast place. Unable to find a seat anywhere and enduring the effects of far too many red bulls from the night before I decided I would skip eating and just enjoy a coffee while hovering around the TV at my departure gate.  To my surprise there appeared to be a newscast wrap up of the prior night’s UFC event in Las Vegas. Mainstream indeed. 

Then I noticed the caption on the screen read “Is Watching UFC Bad for your Children?”  

Well, the answer is flat out no but that didn’t seem to be the prevailing sentiment with my fellow passengers on this flight.  Without even watching the snippets on the TV that were designed to shock and amaze the average viewer, the folks around me were already in disgust.  Children should not watch UFC and in fact ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts should be (of course) banned.  Then I opened my mouth…

I don’t think I made any friends as I boarded a five hour flight but that was just fine with me – it was time to do my duty as an informed MMA fan.  I started my passionate explanation of the sport but admit somewhere along the way a soapbox may have made its way under my feet. 

The five reasons I delivered in support of why parents should want their children to be MMA fighters

1. Fitness – how much time do your kids spend on the couch flipping channels watching TV?  Ever asked an MMA fighter about their day?  It goes something like this: I get up and go to the gym for two hours, stop to have a drink of water and then train for three hours.  In the evening I head out for a few hours of… training.  These guys are insane about their physical fitness.  Ever tried wrestling a friend for a full minute?  Try three five minute rounds and see if your heart is pumping.  If you want your kids to be in the greatest shape of their lives, encourage them to train MMA-style. 

2. Discipline – the regimented training routine, learning jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, karate, muay-thai, helping others to understand the sport and the pure competitiveness of it all.  There are no amount of time outs that you could give your child that would equate to the disciplined approach they have to life that comes from an MMA upbringing.
3. Humility – I’ve been around professional athletes from all the “mainstream” sports and none are more likeable or respectful to their fans than an MMA fighter.  These guys appreciate the support they receive; they understand the importance of the fans to build this sport from the ground up to mainstream.  Ever catch Tiger Woods hanging out in the hotel lobby after a big tournament win so he can have a beer with his fans?  After Affliction Banned there were stars like Arlovski, Fedor and Couture just having some food and giving back to the fans in their own way.  Show your kids how to be humble and grateful when success comes your way; show them a professional MMA fighter.

4. Courage – 20,000 fans, millions watching on pay per view and an imposing opponent… or completing a really good spreadsheet.  Which do you think takes more guts to tackle?  Teach your children to have no fear.

5. Competitiveness – the desire to win is never greater than in a one on one sport.  Take that to the next level where the sport is organized battle.  Show your children what it feels like to compete and win as well as how to learn from defeat.

With that I boarded the plane. I’m sure the crowd behind me continued to generally think of MMA and the UFC as brutal and vicious, but there were a few heads nodding along with me at the end of my tirade that originally were against it… and a few new fans was worth the effort. 

Yeah there is blood now and again and a mismatch in the ring is just as brutal as a mismatch in the business world but the sport has so much to more to offer than the negative clips you see now and again. 

Take the time to research it, talk to someone in the game today and you will be impressed with them as people let alone athletes.