Andrew Sharp is a part of the SB Nation team who primarily writes about basketball and football. He admittedly had dismissed MMA in the past, but decided to attend UFC 109 to get a better perspective about the sport. He wrote about his experience at the event in great detail. Check out an excerpt:
You don't like Mixed Martial Arts? You don't respect it? I used to be in the same boat.
Depending on your levels of cynicism, it’s either a form of human cruelty, or a slightly more legitimized form of WWF wrestling, equal parts barbaric and cartoonish. And it's stereotypes like those that have kept the UFC relegated to the margins of the mainstream. So far, "serious" people have refused to embrace it, and as a result, idiot sports fans like me just dismiss it.
But a note to "serious" people everywhere: Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that, in so many different ways, demands to be taken seriously. Taken seriously by the fighters, by promoters, by advertisers, and most of all, by the fans—the Mixed Martial Arts obsessives that have made MMA and the UFC the fastest growing sport on the planet.
People see the UFC as an organization promoting these barbaric cage matches, bastardizing the sports of boxing and wrestling, and turning them into pure bloodsport. The athletes train hard, yes, but can they really compare to other pro athletes? Someone like Randy Couture may be tough, but so is Ray Lewis—can Randy Couture also run a 4.6 40-yard dash? These are the arguments that sports fans use when they're dismissing MMA as a perversion and a waste of time. Much ado about nothing.
And it's our loss. I went to a fight this weekend—UFC 109, which wasn't even supposed to be a spectacular card—and despite some serious skepticism, it took all of five minutes to be converted. The energy gets you first, then it's the fighting styles, then it's the fans, and finally, the fighters, themselves. It's all on par with any big football or basketball game, and yes, a boxing match. The UFC culture is insular, and I was an outsider, but again, all it took was five minutes.
I encourage you to check out the whole piece if you haven't already. I've always been a fan of MMA, and I can concur Andrew's thoughts about attending a UFC event in person. There's nothing like it. So those of you that casually watch the sport, I encourage you to read this piece and see why you should at least attend one event live in your lifetime. I promise you'll leave with the same mindset that Andrew did, even if you've never really liked MMA. You'll come away with a different outlook about a great sport.