When comparing Mixed Martial Arts’ age to sports like Baseball, Hockey and even Boxing, a simple analogy can be made that MMA is exiting the toddler stage and beginning to learn how to read and write.
MMA in North America was introduced to us in late 1993. Baseball has been around since the 1800’s, Boxing (Marquess of Queensberry Rules) 1867 while hockey (generally speaking) in the 1880’s. Our sport is young and has plenty of time to grow up into a mature adult.
Part of that growing up process is the continued use and respect of Amateur MMA. I got involved with Amateur MMA in the mid 2000’s with one of the most under appreciated men this sport has ever known: Terry Riggs.
Terry, better known as the Manager for former UFC Welterweight Champion Carlos Newton, is a mastermind when it comes to teaching students the arts that make up MMA, both from a self-defenSe and athletic perspective. We would spend countless hours working on the smartest way to separate Amateur MMA into tiers, with matching rules and equipment per tier.
In essence, there was a beginner, intermediate and advanced level. More equipment used at beginner with stricter rules and as a competitor progressed up the tiers, equipment would be removed and the rules getting closer to pro MMA. A minimum of 5 bouts per tier were made mandatory, so at the very least, a fighter would have competed in 15 amateur bouts before going pro.
This past weekend while having the luxury of calling Titan FC 43, I saw two fighters with very strong Amateur MMA backgrounds pull off incredible performances in their bouts.
Will Starks (with over 15 Amateur bouts) made his pro debut on Saturday night, and looked like a season pro. He was cerebral from the onset, yet methodically picked up the pace to eventually earn a first round TKO.
In the main event, Jose “Shorty” Torres dispatched of Pedro Nobre, a UFC Veteran, in 86 seconds. He’s undefeated at 4-0, is the Titan FC Flyweight Champion and is most likely signing a UFC contract by the time you are done reading this. This is a guy who competed in 25 amateur bouts. When he got to the pros, it was as if he had more experience than almost every opponent he has faced.
Another aspect in MMA I am proposing to some decision makers behind the scenes, is the simple suggestion of mirroring what referees do in Japan.
When a fighter has a submission attempt locked on, the referee uses a hand signal in the shape of a gun, while also using a verbal cue, so the judges (and in Japan, the fans) are fully aware of what is going on.
I like this idea because it will force all referees to understand the submission game, so they can properly identify a submission attempt, which could potentially aid a judge who is sitting at an angle where he cannot see the validity of the submission attempt. I will have more on this story as it develops.
In closing, as the sport does continues to develop and grow at this current stage, I simply want to reiterate from my previous article where I simply asked matchmakers and regulators to simply give us a “fair fight” when it comes to matching athletes who were once at the top of the mountain, but are no longer there and can no longer compete with the young lions in the division. Stop using them as fodder and instead, match them up vs. other fighters who are in somewhat the same position, age and skill set.
There are plenty of other items we would all like to see develop with this era of MMA, but these are simply three that I believe can help the sport evolve in a safe, educational and ethical manner.