UFC NEWS – BJ Penn Blogs About The Evolution Of Mixed Martial Arts
When I first started out in this sport, I did it for the test, for the purity of being a martial artist and putting up my jiu-jitsu against the craft of other tough, competing athletes and their styles. I didn’t do it for fame, for money or for titles and championships.
Back when I started, my first UFC fight sold out in Atlantic City with about only 2,500 fans in attendance. The sport wasn’t that big, I could walk down any street and no one would recognize me or anything like that.
Back then my goals where to just have a jiu-jitsu academy, have a successful school that I could teach at and that was pretty much it. But the sport grabbed a hold of me.
I had a good run in the beginning. I kept winning and I had a good relationship with the UFC. Suddenly, the hunger for world titles started to become a priority of mine.
And it still wasn’t for the money or the fame, because again, back then there wasn’t really any of that. My hunger was still purely driven by the test: to prove I was a world-class fighter with skills that could rival anyone.
Things have definitely changed since then. I used to be able to get Dana White on the phone pretty easily, a text or phone call if not immediately answered would be returned in the very near future, but now the president of our organization is so busy, it’s much harder to reach him.
Back then, the company still wasn’t that big. It was more of a family atmosphere. There weren’t all the media obligations that there are today, the signings, the press events. All that stuff was just on a much smaller scale.
Today, to be a UFC fighter is more than a full-time job, it is a lifestyle. In my time with the company we went from small venues to huge arenas, from being virtual unknowns in the sporting world to being on video-game commercials and TV shows. Fighters today are now global celebrities who have a chance at fame, power and wealth. More sponsors, more publicity, everyone seems to want a piece of the MMA world nowadays.
It is because of these new aspects that we have seen a new type of athlete enter the sport. Not just in the UFC, but in other promotions and in MMA gyms across the country. It’s a completely different energy now.
Fighters now are hungry for titles; they are hungry for the fame and the money. It’s just not like it was back when I first started out in the game where we just wanted to test ourselves. Today, rather than fighting for the sheer test or competition, the up-and-coming guys are hungry to make a better life and are living from the sport. Now they’re here to make their dreams come true.
The level of athlete has also improved a bit. The competition has maybe gotten a little steeper, but in reality, it’s not like anyone is bringing anything new to the table. I mean, you have good jiu-jitsu guys, good Muay Thai guys, good boxers, and so on. But we have always had that in the sport.
Sure, guys are more well-rounded now, but the styles they use have been around since before the UFC existed and the new guys aren’t really bringing in anything we haven’t seen before. They are just hungrier for things that didn’t even exist when this sport was on its way up.
Shouted out after victory to the UFC masses, BJPENN.COM is the home to multiple time champion BJ Penn. After a decade of on-line operation BJPENN.COM has evolved into the most reliable destination for all your fighter interviews, fighter blogs and MMA/UFC news stories.