Why MMA Fans Should Follow College Wrestling
Via Mike Riordan
The first is to explain why readers should be interested in reading a weekly college wrestling results article that I wrote for Intermat.
The second is to briefly discuss my thoughts on why MMA fans look at the sport from such very different perspectives.
I originally got into MMA as a means of following the competitive careers of some of my favorite college wrestlers, some of whom I have been following since high school. My entry into MMA completely colors the lens I use to view the sport. When I watch MMA, I get the most enjoyment out of watching great wrestlers employ a strategy which utilizes their particular skills in winning fights. This might seem outrageous to many vocal elements in the sport, but the wrestling, to me, is exciting.
It is safe to say that the type of MMA fan we are, is due large in part to how we became fans in the first place. Those that enter into the sport from boxing (and I don’t think there are very many) want to see crisp striking and well executed stand up; they also may relish the fact that MMA can provide match ups against a division’s very best more often than boxing has done in the past.
Those from a kickboxing background, I would assume, appreciate similar elements of the fight as boxing fans. I also think these fans are more likely to have biases toward the European and Asian fighters who are usually possess the strong kickboxing backgrounds. I also suspect that many believe that troops of scantily-clad female dancers and Lenne Hardt screaming as side dishes to fighter entrances are a fundamental portion of any successful martial-arts promotion recipe.
Fans who come to MMA from jiu-jutsu or other submission arts will have greater appreciation for, obviously, submissions and submission-related fighting. These fans are also more likely to exhibit a Brazillian-centric view of the sport, and to have a bit of a chauvinistic outlook, seeing MMA as “their” sport, and those from other disciplines as, perhaps, soiling the sport’s most pristine form.
Lastly, there are the multitudinous fans who come from wrestling entertainment fandom. These fans, and I’m painting with broad brush strokes here, want two things out of MMA. The first is eye-popping spectacle, everything pro wrestling has to offer, except this time, the combatants are really trying to hurt each other. They want to have their cake and eat it to, experiencing the bang boom of a worked event and the raw grittiness of a “shoot” experience. The only problem with this, is their noisy disapprobation when MMA fails to live up to these desires, which is often, can be considerable.
Pro wrestling types also look for another entertainment factor in MMA: great story lines. If Pro Wrestling is great at anything (and I think that is great at a number of things), it is going to any extreme to sell a fight. MMA fans who have jumped over from pro wrestling want to be convinced their is a reason for watching a fight beyond the fact that one guy is the champ and the other the number one contender, or one guy has K-1 level striking and the other guy won a class single A state high school wrestling championship in Mississippi. These fans want a sport that appeals to their emotions and maybe there is nothing wrong with that.
No matter the path we took to get here, we can always broaden our horizons and enrich our MMA fan experience by investing effort into following another one of MMA’s feeder disciplines. Imagine how rewarding it is to see the student athlete you followed during collegiate competition grow up one day to buckle a UFC belt around his waist. There really is nothing like it. I got to experience this with Brock Lesnar,Cain Velasquez, and a few times with Randy Couture; I hope that I can see it again soon with Johny Hendricks. Being a college wrestling fan offers a new way to enjoy MMA. This is a reason why I am trying to expose as much of the MMA public to the splendor that is college wrestling.
MMA aside, I also try to spread word of college wrestling for the sake of the sport itself. I want to share a thing that brings me so much joy; I figure if I can explain to everyone what about college wrestling I find so exciting, then, naturally I’ll convince everyone to love college wrestling as much as I do.
College wrestling offers heavy doses of what every combat sports fan seeks. Each season tells an epic tale filled with drama, excitement and unpredictability. Best of all, It all leads up to a satisfying climax - what I believe is the greatest sporting event held annually on American soil - the NCAA Division One National Championship.
Wrestling and MMA have both benefited greatly from their relationship with each other, but the possibilities of this relationship have only begun to be exploited. For college wrestling and MMA’s partnership to fully actualize its potential, there needs to be much greater overlap in each sports’ most avid followers. This requires open minds, but it also requires accessible information and resources to guide the willing, yet uninitiated, and particularly from wrestling’s side of the equation.
This is where I hope to help. The landscape of college wrestling can be a daunting thing to navigate for those who don’t know their way around. For instance, if a newcomer were to seek to catch up on all that transpired during a week of college wrestling action, they would first have to aggregate the results and then engage in the potentially impossible task of sifting through individual matches in the hope of making sense of their potential implications. within the college wrestling universe. Fortunately, I am doing the sifting for everyone.