It has become one of the nation’s fastest growing sports today. Mixed martial arts packs arenas and convention centers all over the country.
But why do people pay top dollar to go see these events? A local husband and wife promoter team gave us some insight.
What started out 10 short years ago as a $2 million sport has now grown into a multi-billion dollar sport.
Gary Ezell and his wife Sherry run Tribal Promotions, a local company bringing in these competitions. He says the fascination goes back centuries.
“Throughout history individuals like the gladiator style competitions,” Ezell said.
But Ezell says the challenge of being a promoter is convincing the casual fan to buy a ticket.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to get them in because they think it’s just blood and guts and that’s not what it’s all about,” he said.
Seeing competitions on television helps, he says.
“That way they can see that’s it not just what is kinda made out to be by some individuals,” Ezell said.
Don’t think for a minute these competitors simply walk into cages and start beating each other up.
“These guys train extremely hard,” said Ezell. “They put a lot of effort, you know, so the competition is a big deal to them. There are hours and hours put into this.”
And it seems more women are coming to these events.
“Females are getting more and more interested in it as they come to the fights and see because it’s mixed martial arts,” said Sherry. “It’s not just a brawl there are skilled fighters that train hard in various disciplines of martial arts.”
Sherry also says more and more parents are bringing their kids to the events.
“There so many young kids now involved in martial arts, wrestling is getting bigger around here and everybody likes good guy versus bad guy,” said Sherry.
As far as safety goes for this sport, Ezell says it is one of the most heavily reviewed and governed sports in the country.