My Son's First Amateur MMA Fight: The Nicest Guys Who Can Also KO You

My family is a martial arts family. I have been involved for some 18 years now, and all three of my boys have earned their black belts. My two older boys studied in Okinawan Kenpo (a form of karate), and my youngest son just earned his black belt in jiu-jitsu (a throwing and grappling art). My second oldest also has his black belt in MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), so we like to think of ourselves as well-rounded in these skills.

Although we have practiced these arts primarily for self-defense, we love watching the sport aspect by way of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship -- a sports league for full contact mixed martial arts). We follow the triumphs and trials of such famous fighters as George St-Pierre (my favorite), Ronda Rousey, and Conor McGregor (all household names where I live).

I guess it was no surprise to me when one day my oldest boy (who is an athletic trainer by profession) announced to us that he had signed up for his first amateur mixed martial arts fight. My first reaction was, "awesome son!" Mom's first reaction was ... not as enthusiastic. It is full contact punching, kicking, throwing, joint locking, and choking, after all. But she threw in her full support, of course. And a lot of prayers.

So, the family made plans to attend and cheer on our boy to victory. Even Grandma, an aunt and uncle, and friends of the family made plans to travel across the state to attend the fight. None of us had ever been to a real MMA fight like this, outside of the usual sparring at the martial arts school.

Well, my son trained hard for the next couple of months (while working a very busy job). He has trained for years in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so he had his plans for either using his punching skills from Kenpo and boxing to knock out the opponent, or to take him to the ground and submit him with jiu-jitsu. But remember Mike Tyson's words of wisdom: "Everybody's got plans, until they get hit."

What was most surprising to all of us on the evening of the fight was the family atmosphere and total niceness of everyone in the arena. The fights took place in an indoor soccer facility, and the people in charge brought in a real MMA cage for the contestants to fight in. As I was walking in with Grandma, I did see quite a large number of very large, very intimidating-looking people all over. Out of the 500 or so people in attendance, probably 50% of them were trained fighters.

But they couldn't have been nicer or more polite. Children and grandparents were everywhere. Girlfriends and wives were cheering on their warriors as they entered the cage. I heard no one ... not a soul... use vulgarity before or after the fight. Maybe I'm hard of hearing, but I only heard people cheering for their friends. Like at most sporting events, they had beer for sale. Some people bought it. But not one person got out of control. The police were around, but no one got rowdy or unruly.

I was used to the politeness and respect that is demanded in the traditional martial arts school. I guess I just was not expecting to see so much of it in this non-traditional format. But there it was on full display.

Next Page: But did the fighters behave themselves? The answer may surprise you.