by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
This past Sunday night, the popular investigative television show 60 Minutes aired a special segment called “Mixed Martial Arts: A New Kind of Fight,” dedicated to the recent rise in UFC, IFL and overall MMA popularity in recent years. Topics ranged from the alleged violent nature of MMA compared to that of more traditional sports, the change in rules and ownership of MMA in recent times and included interviews with current UFC and IFL fighters.
The show commenced Sunday night by establishing a scenario that could play out in nearly any urban or suburban neighborhood. CBS correspondent Scott Pelley introduced the segment with this quote…
“Walk into any neighborhood and if they’re playing football on one corner, basketball on the next, baseball on the third and a fight breaks out on the fourth, everybody’s going to run and watch the fight. Hand-to-hand combat is strangely irresistible.”
What is it that makes hand-to-hand combat so irresistible? Is it the blood, the competition, or is it the adrenaline rush that both fighters and fans alike receive?
This question in part was one that this show sought to answer. “Why the big MMA boom in the past few years?”
The segment produced many articulate advocates of MMA such as: Renzo Gracie, Pat Miletich, Matt Hughes and UFC President Dana White. One noticeably missing aspect of this segment was the voice of any real detractor of MMA. Some viewers found this one-sidedness to be poor journalism, but I personally saw it more as a good P.R. opportunity for both the UFC and the IFL.
One of the segments’ most vocal interviewees was Renzo Gracie, current IFL coach and member of the heavily heralded Gracie clan. Gracie spoke out about the beauty of fighting and argued that there are many more levels in MMA than the “punch each other in the face” aspect.
“The first impression is, hit him, knock him out, hurt him, but believe it, it goes far beyond that,” Gracie explains. “There’s so much technique involved, that I, to be honest, I think when I see a good fight, I think it makes a Russian ballet look like uncoordinated body movements.”
Another man highlighted during this portion was Pat Miletich, IFL coach and legendary fighter and trainer of eight different champions…Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver and Tim Sylvia to name just a few.
Miletich said, “I would compare boxing to MMA as – you know, jeeze, checkers to chess.” Pat continued, “If you take the branches of a tree, all the techniques, if I do one submission hold on you, you have three different ways to escape. That’s three more branches. And I have three more moves off of each one of those branches. And then it just keeps going from there. It’s very complex.”
UFC President Dana White was another guest on Sunday’s show and when asked a question concerning the net worth of the UFC, White responded, “Could be a billion [dollars]. I don’t know.”
In another part of the show, Pelley interviewed now former welterweight champion Matt Hughes from Matt’s family farm in Illinois. The clip was brief, but in it Pelley said to Hughes, “They want to see somebody bleed,” to which Hughes replied, “They like excitement. There’s excitement all over. It doesn’t have to be somebody getting hurt to get excitement in the octagon.”
In all, this show was good publicity for MMA, but in my opinion it lacked any true “meat” for avid fight fans. To me it was just the same regurgitated information that has been floating around the media for the past couple of years. As far as an act of good publicity for the sport of MMA goes, the show was a success, but anyone watching with any hopes for exclusive or behind the scenes information was likely at least a smidgen disappointed.