Every week, dozens if not hundreds of professional and amateur MMA events take place all over the world. The big names in mixed martial arts, almost all of them started somewhere small: Buffalo Bill's Wild Fight Night in Mooseport, Mississippi, that or something equally ridiculous sounding.
With all the these men and women trying to follow their dreams of making it big in an incredibly difficult sport, it's easy to forget most of them will not ever make it past a few fights with a tiny crowd cheering/jeering in a high school gymnasium or a local civic center.
That's not a bad thing; it's the nature of the sport. I fought from May 2011 to December 2012 as an amateur, going 6-1 in amateur MMA and 1-0 in amateur kickboxing. I trained relentlessly for my fights where I was going to make no money and did it simply for the experience. But it wasn't a life I wanted to lead... fighting as a professional. Sure, it's easy to go back and think about the glory of the wins or hearing my name in radio advertisements and having friends call just to tell you (that was pretty cool) but then you hear the cracking sound that your ankles make and remember the dislocated rib.
I have no regrets.
The men and women of the UFC, Bellator, ONE FC, WSOF put their bodies through insane torment for financial gain, and yes they do it of their own free will. But in the end they are doing it for the entertainment of millions of fans who often forget to appreciate or simply do not appreciate the sacrifice these people make.
I recently began writing on another MMA website. What I've chosen to cover is Regional MMA, mostly the events with good up and comers or veterans trying to work their way back.
Do you know what I discovered?
Nam Phan fought at Pancrase 261 last weekend and improved to 20-13 via submission win and is on a 2 fight win streak.
Chuck O'Neil is fighting Ricardo Funch tonight at CES 26. It's Funchs first fight since losing to Dan Miller on UFC on FX 4 in June of 2012. Who remembers them? They didn't have successful UFC careers by any means but they are still chasing the dream.
This weekend alone there are a baker’s dozen of fighters who have fought in the UFC fighting on regional cards across the world. Twice that many are low record prospects just hoping for a call to a big name promotion.
Their job is extremely difficult and many of us don't thank them for their hard work.
I'm not so arrogant as to say none of us never think about it or that I'm having an original idea here, but I would like to say thank you to all the fighters from Royce Gracie and Chuck Liddell to Conrad Loucks, a 4-10-1 amateur fighter I used to train with who did it only for the fun of entertaining people.
Thank you to the sport of MMA and all it's hard working coaches, trainers and most of all the fighters who make my life more interesting by letting me watch them kick the crap out of each other.