Over the brief history of mixed martial arts there have been many promotions that have done inventive and often innovative things that have made a lasting impact and have reshaped how the entire sport operates.
In this list we will take a look at three of those promotional changes that have made, monumental significant differences to the sport. Some fist fighting junkies may love these changes, but some may loathe them (believe me I’m well aware that you’ll let me know)
3: Hydration Testing (ONE Championship Weigh-Ins)
After the unfortunate death of ONE FC fighter; Yang Jian Bing before an event in 2015, the Singapore based promotion took a radical step to curb the dangers of weight cutting and to promote an all round healthier sport.
The promotion decided to implement hydration testing as one of the requirements for their weigh ins.
To explain it in the most simplistic way possible, a fighter not only has to make the required weight for the weight class they wish to fight in, but they must also pass a urinalysis test that detects hydration levels. If a fighter makes the weight and doesn’t pass hydration then they must drink water until they’re adequately hydrated, then they will weigh in again and that will be their official weight.
The reason I put this at the bottom of the list is simply because this is new and only done in one major promotion as of now, hell there’s almost zero evidence to say ONE actually carry this out. There’s also no evidence to say that ONE actually have real weigh-ins anymore as no press are allowed to attend their weigh-ins and they don’t release the results, so who knows what they’re doing behind the scenes?
Though imagine a world in which fights weren’t canceled last minute due to harsh cuts, where fighters fought at their absolute best and not as a diluted version of themselves as they try to get some minor size advantage, and a world where fighters don’t risk their lives and their long term health just to trick the scales for a few moments. Pretty dope world huh? Well it may be closer than we think. If this catches on (it better!) then it could revolutionize the sport and it may never be the same again, I just hope ONE are actually doing this, and not just bullshitting.
2: USADA (UFC Drug Testing)
On a June day in 2015 the biggest and most successful MMA promotion of all time decided that it was time to clean up the sport, so they contracted the most respected (this is completely debatable) agency in the world of sports drug testing USADA (United States Anti Doping Agency), and they officially took affect on July 1, 2015. What a roller coaster ride it has been.
Since the new drug testing system has been implemented we have seen more than our fair share of interesting moments, from the Axe Murderer getting banned for LIFE (which was later overturned) to a certain fighter pretty much being given a pass on all the rules (Talking about you Brock!).
Some of us want a clean sport, and we all despise cheaters, I would hope, but as of late USADA has gained more of a negative reputation for suspending innocent fighters such as Tim Means, Yoel Romero, and Josh Barnett, than they have been for catching actual cheaters (Sorry TJ you’re their big fish).
Now I can confidently say that the sport has greatly improved since the inception of this radical drug testing program, especially since those TRT days, remember Vitor? Yeah he’s a joke now (don’t @ me).
Although we have suffered through plenty (and I mean plenty) of cancelled fights, ruined careers, and ruined idolatry we do have hope that they are constantly improving their system and truly cleaning up the sport.
So let’s take some gas station love making pills and move on to number 1
1: Reebok (UFC fighter uniform deal)
Where do I even start with this one? This is by far the most controversial entry on this brief list, but also one of the most hotly debated amongst fighters and fan.
When the UFC announced that they had signed an exclusive uniforming deal with Reebok in December of 2014, there were immediate rumblings about how this would affect already perceived low fighter pay. When it took affect officially on July 6, 2015 things didn’t look good for the deal considering the multi million dollar apparel company apparently didn’t know how to spell the names of the fighters who were going to wear their uniforms.
With some fighters coming out and saying that the Reebok deal actually cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship money, and Dana White firing back saying that’s horse crap (I’m paraphrasing) I guess there’s no real way to quantify what was actually lost (besides fighters that chose to fight in other promotions so they can have their own sponsors) but there does seem to be a lot of global recognition gained from the deal.
With the Reebok deal expiring in 2021 and with promotions like ONE paying their fighters insane amounts of money by MMA standards while also allowing them their own sponsors, there’s no telling what the future of the relationship between Reebok, but regardless of where it goes from here this deal will always remembered as turning point in high level MMA.
Just a brief list, but let me hear your thoughts!
ESPN Deal, Testosterone Exemptions
Written by: Joshua Sloan