Women’s MMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi breaks down what UFC fans expect out of their sport in her latest column for The AllStar. The answer: It’s not just fighting.
A huge part of mixed martial arts is the entertainment value. Fighters train as athletes to perform well and to win in any way possible. Their viewers are their customers, but what exactly do they pay to see?
The number one thing fans want is excitement: A back-and-forth striking battle, a mad jiujitsu scramble, a wrestler tossing their opponent over their head or shoulders! An exciting fight grabs 100% of your focus and attention. You are on the edge of your seat, clenching your fists, or rubbing your hands together.
Most viewers want to see a fighter finish the contest before the time runs out, either by submission or knock out. It’s very difficult to force the consciousness from the body of another human, and can be done in myriad of ways.
Straight or looping punch? An unexpected counter? A cool spinning attack timed perfectly? A kick? Something totally unexpected? A finish often proves that one fighter has more ability, or maybe they got lucky. Regardless, it adds extra excitement.
An exception to this would be if a fight is a desperate fight-of-the-night brawl, and the audience doesn’t want to see it end. They don’t care who wins and would be happy to see a full fifteen or twenty-five minutes, and then a rematch at a later date.
Will Ryan Hall finish his foe with another rolling leg lock? Not many other fighters can implement the leg lock game in MMA. McKenzie Dern frequently gets sweet submissions. Will “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis stay standing and then knock out his opponent?
Israel Adesanya often does anime poses before or after the fight, or other crazy antics. Jordan “The Monkey King” Leavitt dances and twerks after his wins. What kind of dance will he do this time? Many fans look forward to seeing Valentina Shevchenko dance after she wins.
I’ve never been able to finish fights with one-punch or one-kick KOs. However, I’ve had a few TKO finishes from the mount position, and I’ve submitted some opponents. I always try and push the action, slugging it out or trying to take my opponents down.
I think my main draw lies in my uniqueness factor, and the fact that I’m fan-friendly on social media. I reply to every single one of the messages I get on social media, even if it takes me months. I’m outspoken about what I like: Anime and jiujitsu, happiness and positivity. I’m very unlike the average fighter and I think some people can relate to me.
I like to spice it up for weigh-ins, always cosplaying anime characters, or other heroes. I’ve done Captain America, a Jedi, Spider-man, Goku, Vegeta, Princess Leia, several Mortal Kombat characters, and more.
I figure I’ll do what amuses me and hope it amuses everybody else. I snarled at DeAnna Bennet during our weigh-ins as Mileena with fake fangs (since the character is half-monster). I learned a fan-weapon dance routine. I made skits leading up to my fight as Kitana from Mortal Kombat.
My favorite is Dragon Ball Z – I always tried to wear some kind of wig that signified my power level had risen from training, just like Goku’s did.
I believe every fighter who wants to be successful needs one or a combination of these things to be extra entertaining. If a fighter has an interesting life story, he or she should tell it!
Fans are more interested in watching people fight who they are emotionally invested in. The Ultimate Fighter did great things for the fighters who participated in that reality show.
I hardly know anything about most undercard fighters nowadays in the UFC, or smaller promotions. However, I can tell you the names of the TUF contestants, and a little about their families and personalities.
Fighters should feel free to show their uniqueness – everybody has something – and let their fighting style shine in the cage or ring.