How I became a UFC fan – and why no one will believe me

I’m on the short side, 5’3 if I’m lucky, have a high pitch voice, and I’m also a big nerd, I love to read and was a psych major interested in the brain. Can you get further afield from what UFC fans are imagined to be?

Let me be clear – I didn’t start this process myself. I fully resisted every time I saw it in front of me. Some things become too great though. So let’s start at the beginning.

My boyfriend, a large UFC fan, used to watch these fights every month. I was working retail part time, and I usually worked Saturday nights. I would get to his place around 10:30 p.m., just in time for the main event. Since we couldn’t spend that much time together, I would sit on the couch with him. Does that mean I watched it? Hell no. Being the book nerd I am, I would sit on his couch reading the latest book I picked up from the library, while he watched the fights.

To be fair, I did catch some peeks, but I didn’t enjoy what I saw. Blood, loud punches, knockouts – my neuropsych background gasped for what that was doing to people’s minds! How could they be so reckless? And how could everyone be cheering? It made no sense to me.

This pattern continued on for a few months until my boyfriend decided to question me on my prejudice. “Why don’t you watch one fight? Listen to what the commenters are saying and what the fighters are trying to do”. I figured I could open my mind for at least one fight, so I did. Now, all the magical, eye-opening world view did not click after this one fight. I don’t even remember what the fight was. I do remember that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I still continued to read my books after this fight. Please, a busy nerd like myself can’t give up ample reading time like that. However, I did start putting the book down more. I would attentively watch one fight where I knew the fighters, then would turn back. I was slowly getting hooked.

When I was telling my mom about the fights one day, she was disgusted with me “Oh my goodness! How can you watch that?!”. She didn’t understand. Not that anyone who I mentioned it to has.

My boyfriend started inviting his friends over to the UFC nights. Not wanting to be the party pooper, I would leave my book on the table beside me and invest in the fight. I didn’t understand what was happening as well, because I wouldn’t ask my boyfriend the kind of questions I could while we were alone. I was considerate to his friend’s UFC viewing experience (though they aren’t to mine – they are very loud and don’t actually watch the fights).

His friends were the only people very impressed by my growing interest in UFC. One of his friends commented that he had “found a gem”. Not sure why this is true, as Dana White has reported that approximately 40% of UFC fans are female. Anyways, I would take the comment regardless.

However, I got a different reaction at my new workplace. I had found a job in the psychology department at one hospital here in Toronto. I would express excitement over the newest UFC card and get pumped as we inched closer to Saturday. They were shocked and surprised to say the least. They mentioned what I had originally thought – do you know how bad that is for their brain?

One of my coworkers leant me his copy of a book about an English professor who decides to take up mixed martial arts and write about it. The book, The Professor in the Cage, not only described his journey, but also why we fight and why people love to watch. He even mentioned this phenomenon, how people claim a moral high ground when it comes to watching fighting, but as basic instinct, we all love to see it.

So I may not look or sound like the type who would be interested in UFC, but there should be no type. UFC speaks to everyone at an instinctual level, and this explains why it has become so popular. I’m not saying everyone would enjoy seeing the rear naked chokes, the jabbing, the kicks to the leg, but all I’m saying is to not discount it. I don’t even bring a book anymore.

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