Mixed Martial Arts and the Quest for Legitimacy

The Sport vs. Spectacle Divide


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About the Book

Mixed martial arts or MMA is widely regarded as the fastest growing sport. Events fill stadiums around the world and draw vast television audiences, earning strong revenue through pay-per-view at a time when other sports have abandoned it. In 2016, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was bought by the massive talent agency WME-IMG for $4 billion. Despite this success, much of the public remains uneasy with the sport, which critics have denounced as “human cockfighting.”
Through an exploration of violence, class, gender, race and nationalism, the author finds that MMA is both an expression of the positive values of martial arts and a spectacle defined by narcissism, hate and patriarchy. The long-term success of MMA will depend on the ability of promoters and athletes to resist indulging in spectacle at the expense of sport.

About the Author(s)

Mark S. Williams is a professor of political studies at Vancouver Island University in British Columbia.

Bibliographic Details

Mark S. Williams
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 201
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7129-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3055-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. The Aspirations of MMA: Sport and Spectacle 11
2. National Pride and Prejudice 33
3. The Rise and Fall of TRT 55
4. The Spectacle of Violence 73
5. Feminization, Fighting for Recognition and Octagon “Girls”: Spectacle and Patriarchy 93
6. The Needle and the Locker Room Bonus 114
7. “There is no other guy” 133
8. The Epitome of MMA: The Sport and the Spectacle of Conor McGregor 149
Conclusion 182
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 190
Index 193