299453_3716077660093_1840605768_nThe surge of popularity for MMA within the past 10 years has taken the sports world by storm. News coverage from national outlets has never been higher, and live events have been held across the US and internationally at record highs. Every day it seems like another upstart promotion is hosting its first event in the hopes they will be able to capitalize on ticket sales and pay-per-views. This popularity has had an interesting carry-over effect on other related combat sports, as well. While boxing is often counted separately, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and especially Olympic wrestling events have been receiving more attention from not only MMA fans, but the general public as well. The “Save Olympic Wrestling” movement has especially benefited from MMA. The Rumble on the Rails event held in New York City was broadcasted on NBC Sports Network back in May. Olympic wrestling events are hardly ever shown on TV outside of the Olympics, outside of the NCAA championship finals. Metamoris 2 recently completed their second event which was streamed as a PPV online. We are currently witnessing a general shift in the attitudes toward combat sports among casual sports fans, and it’s a great thing.

While much of the focus has been on wrestling and jiu-jitsu, traditional combat sports like Muay Thai and kickboxing have seen an increase in exposure as well. While professional MMA is still illegal in the state of New York, Muay Thai events are regularly held across the state. “Muay Thai at the Mecca”, promoted by Take On Productions, garnered a lot of interest from fans due to the fact that it was the first ever Muay Thai event held at Madison Square Garden. The promotion has held two events in MSG, and regularly holds fight events in the state of New York. Glory Kickboxing events are regularly held on CBS Sports Network. The promotion announced a multi-fight deal with the network back in April of 2013, starting with Glory 7 Milan. With high-profile names like Tryone Spong, Semmy Schilt and Peter Aerts, Glory Kickboxing is slowly gaining more attention here in the states. The next event, Glory 9, will be held this Saturday June 22nd at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. Glory also announced a partnership with One Fighting Championships based in Asia to share fighters. Many fighters compete in both MMA and kickboxing, and this partnership is sure to benefit both promotions moving forward.

The promotional power of mixed martial arts has translated to other disciplines as well. When it was announced that Olympic wrestling was on the chopping block for the IOC committee, the entire combat sports community took notice. Both the UFC and Bellator have supported the effort to keep wrestling in the Olympics. Between social media promotion and live TV announcements, the message was sent that combat sport fans should support other combat sports. Both current and retired fighters have rallied with the movement to save the sport. The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées) or FILA, stated that they intend to work with the IOC and the UFC in order to make the changes necessary to keep the sport relevant. Everything from production to uniforms to rules has been discussed, and while there is still much to decide, the current situation does look brighter than before. Along with rule changes additional TV exposure has brought wrestling to casual sports fans. The Rumble on the Rails event held in New York was a match between the United States, Russia, and Iran. The US beat Russia and lost to Iran, but the event was largely considered a success.

With the UFC on Fox deal, MMA has proved to fans and detractors that combat sports are watchable on TV, and most importantly, that sponsors are willing to become involved. The shift in the attitudes towards combat sports has allowed all disciplines to branch out and attempt to expand their business. The next few years will pave the landscape for future combat sports programming, but if other sports are able to grow much like mixed martial arts has, part of their success will be due to MMA.

About The Author

Senior Columnist

Nate Velazquez’s passion for MMA comes from his youth. He started with traditional Kung Fu at the age of 5, and trained over the summers at local gyms while in undergrad. After graduating from Temple University he began training with American Top Team in Bethlehem, PA. He has since moved to Tampa, FL for graduate school and currently works as a MMA instructor for fitness. As a business student in graduate school, the operations and management aspects of MMA has always been an interest for him. As the sport continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how the various promotions across the globe change and adopt their business models to meet the demands of the public viewers.