MMA in Qatar
The first question I think I should answer is what is MMA? MMA stands for mixed marshal arts. Back in the day – I’m talking about in the 1990s I used read a magazine called COMBAT – there used to be a buzz about Bushido – which when translated literally means the “way of the warrior” – I see the Bushido movement as a forerunner to the modern day MMA movement where the contenders can use any marshal art they wish to beat their opponent to submission…. so at the time the MMA movement hadn’t taken off and there was a lot of talk about Bushido competitions in Japan and other places around the world. Now BJJ hadn’t really hit the scene but ground fighting was still being mentioned as the place where 80% of fights end up … .not sure if that is actually accurate because I’d rather punch the biggest guy and run away rather than get into a tussle with him on the floor with his mates kicking me in the head while I attempt to break his arm !!!
Anyway Mixed martial arts (MMA) is defined as a full contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling from standing and the ground. It seems according to Wikipedia ancient Olympics also used to allow a full range of combat in the sport of pankration…. you learn something new everyday. The name MMA was used in a review of UFC 1 in 1993 and seems have stuck and spread like wild fire.
Now you can use any art you wish from BJJ, catch wrestling, Judo, Karate and kickboxing. A wrestling art of some sort is almost essential to avoid getting caught on the ground or to finish the fight and turn the tide when you’re getting beat down. Now here in Qatar the MMA scene is really in its infancy… although BJJ has been around here for 5 years or so the MMA scene is much slower to take off and possibly has had more interest due to the reality TV shows such as Desert Force which are helping to market the sport. The situation is very similar in Saudi Arabia although we can safely say the UAE is ahead of the curve.
What does the future hold? More WWE – you bet the local populations seem to love these exaggerated and over acted scenes of pure violence and are yet to appreciate that nothing is real in American wresting….. as for MMA I think it will have a tough time out here due to the bloody nature of the sport and the high level of commitment required to be successful. BJJ has had some serious birthing pains and is yet to really establish itself outside of the committed few and I can’t see MMA doing any better ! Without institutional support its only going to be the committed few who will keep the candle burning.