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Saturday, 01/04/2014, 02:43 pm

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How Can MMA Become Mainstream? People Like Jeff Blatnick

The UFC was originally advertised as ‘no rules, brutality!, one man enters, one man leaves!’ Now it has established itself as the premier mixed martial arts organization on the planet. The number one place to see high level athleticism and also technical martial arts talent. MMA as a sport wasn’t always so respected, and it also has not received the respect it should have even now.

I know, I know, UFC is on FOX, they have launched their own Netflix-like Fight Pass, but MMA is still not as big as it could be, and with the right advocacy, it could be more prevalent.

Now, there have been many people who have legitimized the sport in a number of countries, but there is one man who we should mention as an original, at least in America.

One of the first men to realize, and then promote, the true potential of MMA was American Olympian gold-medalist wrestler Jeff Blatnick, who competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games. Blatnick was an early UFC color commentator and helped to legitimize MMA in the eyes of many Americans.

“What do you practice for? What do you train for? [I train] To improve,” Blatnick told school kids in 2008. Is there anything more true to the essence of mixed martial arts than that quote? I think not.

Blatnick worked to up the legitimacy of the sport in America because he knew that with the correct rules in place, the UFC could be the premier promotion to show true-to-life proof of who the best of the best is in full-contact combative sport.

He also was the first man to truly validate MMA to the common public in America. Although I wasn’t old enough to experience the worst of it, I even now see people saying ‘oh, you enjoy UFC?’ Followed of course by, ‘isn’t that like human cockfighting? Don’t people die in that?’ At least it is a bit better now.

As many of you know, during the 1990’s, the UFC was on its dying legs. If it wasn’t for the fighters who grew the sport and proved that MMA wasn’t just a barbaric spectacle, it wouldn’t be where it is today.

We can’t forget though, that people like Blatnick helped to raise MMA from the ashes as well, at least in America.

There he was, putting his name and his reputation on the line; to prove to everyone that this sport that former U.S. presidential candidate John McCain called “human cockfighting” was a legitimate showing of the absolute potential of human understanding of martial arts and athleticism.

Will MMA become the sport of the future? Who knows. If it does end up becoming one of the biggest sports on the planet, people like Blatnick will be people that us MMA fans tell our children about. People who knew the potential that this sport has. People who understand that this sport is not just about brutality and hurting the man standing across from you in the cage.

It will take people who know that this sport will show who the best athlete on the planet is. People who know that the man or woman who shows they are the hardest-working, most knowledgeable, most technical and most athletically gifted person will become the greatest.

Most of all, it will take people who know and advocate that the one who can best their equally established opponent purely with their body alone will be the premier athlete on the planet.

Although we need people like Blatnick to legitimize the sport, everyone eventually passes on. Blatnick unfortunately passed away on Oct. 24, 2012. The MMA advocate and a true luminary of the sport died due to complications from heart surgery. After his passing, MMA legend Frank Shamrock said on twitter–

Also, another MMA pioneer, referee “Big” John McCarthy tweeted:

Now, if MMA is to become mainstream and accepted like we know it can be, we must have more people like Blatnick get involved. It is where it is in a big way due to people like Blatnick supporting it.

Besides Brazil and Russia, do other countries have people who helped legitimize the sport? let us know in the comments below.

In order for MMA to earn the recognition it deserves, it needs more high-profile athletes and celebrities advocating for it and validating the sport to the unbelievers.

Also, just FYI, Jeff Blatnick coined the term ‘Mixed Martial Arts’.

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0 Comments to How Can MMA Become Mainstream? People Like Jeff Blatnick

  1. Mark2727 says:

    Blatnick lent a voice of credibility to what was considered to be a barbaric sport at the time. UFC & MMA community owe a great deal to him. RIP

  2. Keith long says:

    Well said Derek! Like Jeff Blatnick, yourself and many others I believe MMA should be considered a sport and the fighters as athletes. But in order for this to happen the powers at be in the UFC need to promote ‘sportsmanship’ a lot more than ‘Dana White’ is currently lacking to do so. The UFC need to get rid of the bad attitude that some fighters are currently showing. By this i mean that no matter how much the fighters dislike each other outside of the cage they need to show more respect for their opponent after the fight. Refusing to shake hands or touch gloves after fights is not doing the sport or themselves any good. After all if it wasn’t for each other there wouldn’t be a fight, so I believe that anyone who gets in that cage should act accordingly and treat each other as athletes with more respect. This will promote MMA more as a sport and the fighters as athletes and get away from this mentality of two thugs just bashing each other which at times is how it currently looks.

    • Sal says:

      Right on the money..had to share ur post

    • Derek Langhorn says:

      That is very true, but I think some of that mean-mugging and disrespect
      actually hypes up the fight even more. People inherently like conflict,
      whether they are apt to admit it or not, and when they see two fighters
      either staring each other down or fighters showing disrespect, it adds
      hype, excitement and adrenaline to the match. I agree the majority of
      fights should be respectful matches between two life-long competitors
      and martial arts practitioners, but every once in a while you need a
      good ol’ fashioned brawl to incite some more fan attention.

      I believe that any publicity is good publicity, even for MMA. Even though
      the UFC was labeled as two men enter, one man leaves, there was value in
      the controversy. There is also value in the controversy that occurs
      during and after absolutely nail-biting brawls between two competitors
      with hearts bigger than their brains.

  3. SlipSlap says:

    In order to become more mainstream is needs to act like a mainstream sport. Firstly ban the druggies like Belfort and Sonnen instead of trying to make heroes out of them. Secondly, coach White to act like a responsible and decent human during interviews. Network TV and national TV stations will never take the UFC seriously when the president of the organization isnt capable of uttering a sentence without saying ‘fk’.

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