Thursday, July 26, 2012

Video killed the radio star?

One of the good things about being in an area that strongly supports mixed martial arts is all the opportunities you have to promote the sport. It's no secret that since Shogun Fights is based in Baltimore, that the city strongly supports them and both the fighters and the head promoter, John Rallo, are fixtures in and around Baltimore as they continue to get the word out and increase MMA's popularity in both the city and the state.

Rallo has a good relationship with the Baltimore rock radio station 98 Rock, which also has its own television station. Dan Root, a fighter from Rallo's gym Ground Control Baltimore, recently appeared on 98 Rock's TV station and we learned a little more about his background and how he got into MMA.

One of the big reveals from Root's interview is that he is trying out for an upcoming season of the UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter" that will feature lightweights and welterweights, the latter of which is Root's weight class. Given Root's recent string of victories at Shogun Fights and his victory at a card in West Virginia earlier this month, I'd say Root could be considered one of the favorites to be added to that season's cast, especially since he boasts an impressive ground game and submission skills.

Root would follow in the footsteps of Zach Davis from Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg if he were to make it on the show, which would be nothing but a coup and a big boost for MMA in the state.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Amateur night

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of attending an amateur mixed martial arts event, Maryland Cage Combat, in Millersville, Md. I provided a full recap of the event for the website U.S. Combat Sports, a site I've written for before, and you can read the recap here.

Amateur MMA is slightly different from professional MMA that we see every day in organizations like the UFC and Strikeforce. Among the different rules that I saw applied at the Maryland Cage Combat event was that all the fighters had to wear shin pads. Usually those are only used in sparring during training sessions, but in amateur MMA it's required during actual fights. The fighters were also forbidden from using elbows or attempting kicks to the head.

I think the fact this event was an amateur card and these rules were in effect were a benefit to the fighters. Almost all of the fighters appeared to be around my age (27) or younger, so many had probably not been training in MMA for very long. I think a slow transition into MMA through amateur rules is a good way to go for fighters just starting out.

Even despite the extra padding and rules, it was still an entertaining event to watch. It was easy to see that each fighter left it all in the cage and wanted to make a good impression because they were reaching their goal of competing professionally in front of an audience. It's easy to become jaded or cynical in a sport as unforgiving and relentless as MMA, but when you see young fighters laying it all on the line in what was basically a recreation center in front of a modest but enthusiastic crowd, you're reminded of why this sport has such a loyal and passionate following.