Why is UFC so popular with men? | Modern Masculinity

Why is UFC so popular with men? | Modern Masculinity

In the comments on the last series,
I was like, oh wow, people actually understand what we’re
trying to do so I feel less nervous now. But then I also do feel nervous because
we’ve now gone on to more difficult subjects. It’s less like who are your role models? More like, how do you feel
about your penis, which is like … [laughter] So after season 1, we asked viewers what
they wanted us to look at in season 2 and a lot of men got in touch and said,
can you look at masculinity through sport? I thought that MMA and the Ultimate Fighting
Championship would be a really interesting place to go and
look at masculinity. This journey is taking me to New York,
meeting all the fighters … – Hi.
– Hey. And the fans … – You’re gonna get killed,
motherfucker. And just going to an event I never thought
I’d go to. – Masvidal versus Diaz. But we started that journey in Nottingham. Darren Till is a British fighter from
Liverpool and one of the best known guys on the card for the UFC 244 event. Having lost his last two fights, there’s a
lot riding on his upcoming match up in New York. Welcome to the UFC gym in Nottingham. Big open workout. Big day for the gym.
Big day for Darren. Big fight for Darren. I’ll hand it over to the superstar for
his open workout. The open workout is an opportunity
for the press to get shots of the fighters in action and to put questions to them
before the event. I caught up with Darren after his presser. What is it about UFC that makes it so
popular with men? When it’s all stripped down, it sort of goes
back to gladiator days. The cage doors get locked and you sort of
fight for the death. It’s got to be the biggest fighting combat
sport out there now. People that don’t follow it, do you think
they misunderstand what it’s about? Yeah, I think people just watch it for
the first time and see all blood and elbows getting thrown, thinking ooh. You know what I mean but when you
look into it more, and understand how much skill is involved, I think you
become a fan. Lots of people did say to me, because it’s
mixed martial arts, it’s the best of the best because anything goes. So if you’ve got every art in this world,
martial arts, and put them together, who’s the best? I’m nearly there. – Yeah?
– Nearly. I heard you were a bit arrogant. You didn’t sound that arrogant when
you said that. Someone time me,
‘Oh, you’re seeing Darren Till? He’s a little bit arrogant.’
That was very … Chinese whispers.
People putting me down, man. I’m a little bit arrogant.
A nice arrogant. So I’m here in New York for
the UFC 244 event. There’s a bunch of different things
happening in a few days leading up. There’s gonna be an open work out. There’s a media day, there’s gonna be
a lot of opportunities to speak to you guys who are following MMA and UFC. What is it that people, particularly men,
find in this sport that they don’t find elsewhere? The open workout in Madison Square Garden
was in front of hardcore fans who’d been drawn out to see
their favourite fighters ahead of the event on Saturday. I’m not really sure how this works. [laughs] Everybody is saying that this isn’t usually
how they do an open workout, that they’ve never seen this before. They’ve never seen people bring out … Usually, what is supposed to happen
is he’s supposed to do some training, do a warm up and answer some questions
from the media. We could sit and do this shit all night
if no one stopped them. Yeah but do you think
they’re insured for this? What’s that? Do you think they’re giving they’re
insured for this? Nah, I don’t know. [laughter] After that slightly bizarre display,
Masvidal was whisked off to do his presser and I decided to shoot my shot and
ask him a question. A lot of people said to me that fighting
is a primal instinct that all men have. Do you believe that to be true? Do you think that all men have that
inside them? Men and women,
survival it’s everything. You know, we’re animals, a lot of us. Some of us are more animals than others,
you know. But I just feel that everybody has it in men,
women, anybody. You know, if you need to survive, if you’re
fighting for that last bologna sandwich, it’s going to come out of you, you know. You might not be good at it,
but everybody can fight. – Thank you.
– Thank you. I wanted to get some context for what
I’d seen at the open workout. So I grabbed ESPN’s Ariel Helwani,
who’s been covering the sport since 2006. The stereotype is that UFC is
really popular with guys that are just super aggressive and violent. That stigma is as prehistoric. That guy wearing a suit is an MMA fan.
Celebrities are MMA fans. The president is an MMA fan. It’s never going to be everyone’s
cup of tea but in 26 years, enough people from every walk of life
like the sport to where I think it’s a lot more diverse than maybe someone
who isn’t a fan might think. In this moment, this week, when the fight
is about to happen, how much of that do you think people
consume for pure entertainment? And how much of that do you think
taps into something deeper, particularly for men? There are elements of WWE in this,
you know, the showmanship, the characters, but there’s also this emotional investment
that they have in these guys. You know, he’s going into battle and
I’m going to battle with him. And there’s also a part where you’re
almost living vicariously through this guy. They’re superhuman, in my opinion. These guys and girls have something
in them that you and I don’t possess. After speaking to Ariel, I wanted to chat
to fans directly to hear what they liked about UFC. So I headed to Legends Bar, where
a live radio show was being recorded with former UFC champion Dan Hardy. What do you like about the sport? We fight every day. You know, we fight to stay in our job,
get paid, get through the days. So watching someone push through,
just getting beat on and then when they come on top, to me,
that’s a rush. I more than any other sport find a lot
of attraction to the actual individual fighters. A guy like Nick Diaz, you get to see his
personality before he gets in the ring and you get to see him be that
personality in the ring. You can get the richest person in the world.
He can pay for the best trainers, the best everything since he’s
twelve years old and he wouldn’t be the champion
of the world. There’s something about them that’s
just missing that I think people are drawn to that we can’t
really relate to them. This is the ultimate media day,
which is the Thursday before the Saturday fight. It’s quite fun, just to see
how it all works. This is nuts. It’s like choose your fighter. I need to go around and find my favourite
looking one to questions to. In the end, I decided to speak
to Kelvin Gastelum. He was Darren Till’s opponent on fight night. What is it about UFC and MMA as a sport
that attracts you to that? I think there’s so much fake stuff going
around in the world today that people are looking
for genuine entertainment. Something pure. Something real. What is it that pushes you and makes
you want to do this? I grew up in Arizona. My family came from Mexico a long,
long time ago. So we were a very poor
family growing up. All I know is hard work. You know, that’s the immigrant mentality
is we gotta work for what we want. Nothing’s ever been handed to us. Do you think that links to the UFC? We all come from different backgrounds,
different upbringings. What makes us all the same is that. – That kind of striving?
– Yeah. Everybody’s on the other side of this wall
trying to get lines from Nate Diaz, but I’ve managed to find Dan hanging
around the back here. Are you OK hun? [laughter] Everyone watching this is going to think
I don’t know how to use a spoon. Why is she talking to this guy?
He’s not even figured out cutlery. What is it about this that you think
appeals to so many men across the board? Every man, as we’re talking about masculinity,
falls on that spectrum of wild animal, civilised human being. Some of us have got a bit more wild animal
than others, and that wild animal needs to manifest in some ways. Why has it suddenly gone quiet?
Face offs. Does that mean they’re just looking at
each other. Yeah. I want to see what’s going on over there
and then we can come back and sit down. He does it
every time, it’s his thing. So it’s like, a catwalk for fighters?
A little bit. More of a lion walk than a catwalk. A lion walk than a catwalk. [laughs]. These guys are sizing each other up.
They’re ready to do battle. Have you made that joke before? – No.
– Really? – That was pretty good.
– Was it? Yeah, off the cuff. You were just saying about how you
think society needs to take martial arts more seriously. I don’t think we fully understand and
appreciate as a society our important combat sports [are]. Every single person on this fight card. if they didn’t have a space for that
animalistic side of them to manifest, it would have manifested somehow. It would’ve manifested in a negative
relationship or a negative marriage. I mean, I think we should be encouraging
more people to get involved in combat sports because I feel like if you can separate
that part of yourself away from your regular life, it’s not gonna manifest in your real life. Headline fighter Jorge Masvidal didn’t
turn up for his face off, but he did give the media
some sound bites. No matter what your views on Trump as
president, the guy is a bad motherfucker. I managed to get him by himself to
follow up with a few questions of my own. I was asking you if aggression and
the need to fight and be competitive is innate in all men. It’s not a trick question.
It’s not like anything like that. Shit. How much time do you got? How much time do you
want to give me? Masculinity and men fighting. Why would they pick me to answer that?
That’s so weird. Cheeky fellow. I think I said yes, and men and women
have it, but men obviously more because it’s in our nature. You know me in particular, I think
my bloodline comes from the guy that was maybe not smartest or didn’t care
to be the smartest. He was just hanging out in the village
and then when other villages came to invade, they knocked on his door and said,
‘hey, man, we’ve got these guys trying to invade. We need your skillset.’ OK. He got out there and took care of business,
went about his day. The world back then was ruled by men
like me and then shit happened and fucking laws came into place,
the police and all these types of stuff that allowed like weak betas and
people with too much opinion to take over, but fighting is in everybody, you know. When I came to that event, it was interesting
for me because it was a lot more underground than I thought it would be. And you brought people on the stage
who were not fighters and you got them to fight. What was it you wanted to do? We’re going to have fun.
These guys are going to fucking throw blows. I’m going to make the UFC sweat
their balls off. They’re gonna be like, no this a huge liability,
but I just wanted them to have fun and I wanted me to have some fun. and have a good time. That’s it. It’s like Fight Club.
Yeah my own Fight Club. [cheering] Today is the weigh ins.
It’s Friday night in New York. It’s completely packed, there’s
so many people in here. Dana White has just come out on stage. Apparently The Rock is going to come
out in a second. And I can’t lie, I’m quite excited to see
how it plays out. [boos] Yo, he’s got a MAGA cap on. He has a make America great cap on and
he’s holding Donald Trump’s son’s book, Triggered. – Fuck you Colby.
– The drama. [crows shouts] Fuck you Colby.
Fuck you Colby. You suck. You suck.
You suck. You suck. So they’ve just done the presser for
the next event, UFC 245. The theatrics, it was nuts. Yeah. I just don’t know what to make of it,
it’s mad. And now for the ceremonial weigh in
for UFC 244, it’s Joe Rogan. If you smell what
The Rock is cooking? Please welcome Nate Diaz. [crowd cheers] Official weight 170.5 Jorge Masvidal, official weight 169.5 Throughout the days leading up to the fight,
I got a pretty good idea of a number of different reasons as to why MMA
is so popular with so many men. I turned up to the event on Saturday excited
to see what the atmosphere would be like. Basically, just tell me what it is
you like about UFC. I just like the blood, you know. Punching and all that. I like it when people get rocked. It’s like, I don’t know, it gives me goosebumps. Who are you looking to see? I’m going for Nate Diaz but I’m a fan
of Jorge too. Why is Nate Diaz so popular? – Everybody’s saying Diaz.
– Go Diaz! It’s just the gangster in him.
Everybody likes it. I’m watching someone who’s an artist
paint a picture. They take their skill pretty seriously
and they’ve got knockout power. That’s what everyone’s here for,
to see a knockout. I think boxing is kind of played out.
This is more fun. This is … you get a lot more action.
OK. It’s a combination of theatre and athleticism. What’s the Guardian’s view on UFC?
The Guardian generally doesn’t cover it. I’m going to go in. We’re not allowed to take our cameras
with us next to the octagon, so we’re gonna be shooting on our
mobile phones. The BMF title is on the line. – What it is? The doctor is waving it off?
– No way. What? No way. – No way.
– Dana White immediately out of his seat. Ladies and gentlemen, due to the laceration
on Nate Diaz’s eye, by TKO, the winner of the BMF belt,
Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal. The gate was $6.6 million dollars. – Wooo.
– Yeah. [laughter] When we first bought this company,
venues didn’t want us. And at that time Trump reached out
and asked us to come to the Taj Mahal. Everything that ever happened to me
in my career, Trump was the first guy to pick up the phone and reach out to me. And I don’t care where you sit politically. The president of the United States is
here at our events. We weren’t allowed here a few years ago. Rough week. No matter what any fighter will ever
tell you, they will be scared. If they tell you they’re not,
it’s a blatant lie. But this fight I wasn’t scared,
I was terrified. Coming off the losses I was coming off
and how invincible I thought I was before that, I know I’m still the greatest but I know
I’ve got to work at that. It’s been a long year, so we’re gonna have
a drink before you guys start barking. I haven’t eaten either so. Oh yeah, that’s good pizza. As far as painting my Picasso,
I almost got to do it, you know. I don’t want nothing to take my greatness,
to say some guy tripped on a pebble and that’s how I beat him. That’s not me.
I wanted to end him. I want to send them off to another dimension. I got nothing but respect for the dude,
but that’s the type of artwork I like to do. I love the fucking belt.
I’d rock that shit. I wear that out in public, maybe. MMA and UFC is operating on multiple levels. I think linked to masculinity, it’s fascinating. There’s the athleticism.
There’s the art of it, right? There’s the entertainment.
There’s a spectacle. There’s a kind of show. I did find it bizarre when Trump turned up. At the press conference, afterwards,
they were all like, oh you know, the president was here. And that is a statement. And it’s also that thing of it being
not a politically correct space, a place where rules are broken and
you can feel frustrated. There’s an outlet. And I know a lot of people aren’t very
sympathetic to that idea. But people don’t like rules. And this sport really captures that energy. Dismissing the sport because Trump
was there, or dismissing the sport because it’s violent, whatever,
it kind of misses out everything else that’s going on around this. And it will continue to grow and be
a very popular sport. It did better than the boxing the other day
on pay per views. You know, people do like this, you got
to be involved in the conversation and, you know, understand these things. Don’t how you follow on from this and Trump and UFC and Masvidal and
Nate Diaz’s face. But if you want to see what we do next,
like, comment and subscribe and stay up to date with the next episode
of Modern Masculinity.

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100 thoughts on “Why is UFC so popular with men? | Modern Masculinity”

  • I do think that what Masvidal said is partially true. My dogs love scrapping and I think that natural instinct has been socialised out of us (men and women). I've spoken to lots of guys who do boxing, MMA or a martial art and all of them love the discipline. It makes me think maybe I should take it up purely as a hobby. But I also see no reason to get punched in the face.

    I do think many fight-fans are highly toxic. But I think for the hard-core fans understand the sport and discipline of it. Overall, I think the world would be a better place if every man trained some form of combat regularly. The amount of men who leave prison and never re-offend because they pick up boxing in jail would actually stagger most people. Combat sports trains people to control their "wild animal" side, as Dan Hardy calls it. Most people in society unlearn that behaviour as they grow up – but many others don't.

    I also think if you look at Conor McGregor, when he stopped fighting for a bit he turned into a complete wanker. He put on a persona before and whilst fighting was able to stay humble and level-headed. As soon as he stopped fighting he turned into an animal.

  • One disappointment in this video is you didn't mention how Trump was booed out of the building. Dana White and Colby Covington welcomed him but almost everyone else didn't.

  • MMA is fun for me because as Joe Rogan puts it, its "high level decision making with dire physical consequences" so you can expect world class athletes to be pushed to their limits and put on brilliant performances.

    I also truly believe MMA fighters are the best athletes on the planet, and being able to defend yourself in an altercation brings a crazy level of confidence.

  • Posting for a second time because people need to pay attention. UFC/PFL is going to get bigger and bigger just like the NFL and more and more of these fighters are going to come up with CTE and literally go crazy. This whole news segment didn't mention possible brain damage the whole time. The fans aren't the ones getting punched and kicked in the face to even care. Martial Arts should only be for self defense. Most of these fighters never get a large payout like McGregor and the other big names. It takes years of fighting to maybe get to the very top and all the while they are taking hits to the head.


  • Suprised to see a video like this from The Guardian. The reporter is suprisingly unjudgemental and open-minded.

  • You had an opportunity to ask any of the female fighters/fans that same question. I think it would be interesting to hear their side too.

  • This journalist is a breath of fresh air. Genuinely open minded, rather than having an agenda hidden behind a facade of professionalism. Keep it up!

  • This channel censors posts. It repeatedly removed mine because I posted that this fighting stuff is for tryhards and insecure boys, not real men. Real men dont have to act like a buffed up stupids with braindamage. This sport is for closet princesses that have insecurity problems.
    People who are ripped also ALWAYS need acknowledgement otherwise they will throw a fit.

  • Joe Rogan would definitely be an interesting person to look into more for this series. He combines this controlled physical aggression with a kind-of gentle intellectual curiosity.

  • As long as women can define masculinity as someone's culture vs nature they can continuously degrade men by forcing them into their frame. Thus human nature becomes whatever society wants. Masculinity is nature , but the difference between men and woman are being projected as cultural only. And men are being viewed as defective

  • God i hate ye guardian fucks but credit where credit is due, this was a good lil documentary helped by the reporters genuine open mindedness..imma go back to cussing ye out tomorrow! ; )

  • Has anyone watched Jorge Masvidal's flying knee, UFC is an amazing hybrid of fighting that you would only see in Tekken or Mortal Kombat

  • Coming from an American, you should talk to some grime or UK drill artists. I want to see what its like round their ends

  • Great video and part of a great series. Defining and discussing masculinity in our ever changing world is an important and uncomfortable (for some) discussion to be had. Thanks for doing a great job making the conversation flow.

  • Well done Iman Amrani, your reporting is like a breath of fresh air – open-minded, engaged and interesting!! Keep up the good work!!

  • Cool! It would be interesting to see you look into Brazilian jiu jitsu more specifically too, a central part of the UFC (indeed, the UFC was famously started by BJJ legend Rorion Gracie and his student Art Davie as a tool to promote BJJ, which it did perfectly). I've been teaching BJJ for about 10 years now, the demographic is interesting (e.g., a lot of people in BJJ like me, so middle class lefty pacifists who don't like blokey things, plus there is a significant proportion of women at my club, Artemis BJJ: around a third of the membership are female).

    The whole reason BJJ has become an international sport is the UFC, it would probably have never left Brazil without that amazing marketing tool. So for me, the UFC is fascinating from a historical perspective, particularly as it was via the UFC that I got into BJJ originally. However, I've not watched a full MMA event in years: I lost interest way back after UFC 40, once the fighters become more homogeneous (i.e., pretty much every successful MMA fighter now has a relatively well rounded game, as opposed to the old days when you would have somebody completely clueless about grappling but solid in striking, or a wrestler who had never trained submissions, etc).

  • So you didn't even think it necessary to mention the Women fighting that evening, or interview a single female fan. I realise this is a documentary about masculinity, but it seemed like you were only there to reinforce opinions you already held. Surely a woman's perspective on the sport is relevant to your film. Funny how your newspaper constantly talks about the silencing of women's voices, but you're more than happy to do it yourself if it suits your needs.

  • Men lmfao trust me ghee weren't men that asked for this…male feminists wanted this
    You know nothing about men so do one

  • It's difficult to put in to words, but I believe the overarching appeal is witnessing individuals overcome the greatest of adversity.

    For anyone who has struggled in life, been beaten down and oppressed, man or woman of any background or circumstance, we find ourselves captivated and inspired by others who fight through their own adversity, no matter what it may be.

    When talking about entertainment, In terms of the stakes involved, MMA could be the greatest challenge there is. Seeing someone triumph against all odds is uplifting and inspirational.

  • My last two girlfriends have been as into the sport as I am. Honestly even more so than most of my mates. MMA in particular attracts female fans. MMA gyms are full of women these days. About a quarter of the people in my gym are women.

  • The more people (like The Guardian to be honest) try to suppresses masculinity and what it is to be male, the more and more they will be drawn to things like MMA. The more people (like The Guardian to be honest) tell white men that they are “white men” they will eventually solely act with the advancement/betterment of ‘white men’. It’s so simple that it’s staggering, the identity politics type that monopolies writers at The Guardian can’t seem to grasp this!

  • Disappointed in the neutral stance taken by the journalist. She certainly didn't actively challenge hegemonic masculinity.

  • I think MMA is so popular because it covers almost everything. All cultures have a warrior history and a fighting style, otherwise they wouldn't still be cultures. It's bringing all of those together and strips away all of the societal heirarchies, the only real way of imposing power and status outside of a system that holds so many people back is me vs you.

    Like one of the guys say. This is the only sport (along with boxing) that one guy can have all the money, best coaches, train at the best gym and still not be close to being a champion. You can teach someone techniques, but you can't teach someone how to fight.

  • Should head to a few local mma gyms and see the folk that train there. Im sure you will find the same people in every gym.

    19 yo kids who just a few years previously were out of shape and were so shy they couldnt look people in the eye.

    Hard working professionals who find another outlet for their passion before going back to the city

    You have jiu jitsu nerds doing PhDs while playing cerebral fighting games every day.

    You have women looking to learn to defend themselves often training against much bigger men on a daily basis and expecting no special treatment.

  • Nice lady. Spent a weekend in a martial artists world and left with some insights that are quite pedestrian. Martial arts are not about gender, its about spirit, but you cant expect casual fans and unrelated journos to fully appreciate that.

  • That was an enjoyable piece, but I saw no reflection on it as how it pertains to modern masculinity. Also, do we really need to ask the question of why men like to see other men fight in a cage, it's as old as time itself. I will go back and look at your other stuff. I think I may have seen your Peterson video and I remember that being more of an insight into a certain aspect of disenfranchised young males. Anyway nice work, I think thought you need to dig into the subject more clearly if you are going to frame it as and exploration into Modern Masculinity.

  • Do some research. How do some of people become journalists is shocking. They get some random people off the streets to be so called journalists.

  • It’s a cliche but, testosterone. Every male animal in the animal kingdom battles with one another to show who’s the top dog. It’s to gain the title in true masculinity, courage, strength, willpower, relentlessness and so on. Next time you should interview a silverback, bison bull or male grizzly instead of doing a pathetic finger pointing documentary to continue to degenerate men and the masculinity we are by nature born with, you might get a better response from one of those animals.

  • The competitive nature in men is what strives their desire to win and conquer, systematically organizing our hierarchy of effort and accomplishment and there is nothing more competitive than combat sports, fighting another man and having to win, be it knockout, tapping or point results.

    Keep your tools sharp and your mind disciplined and that is the best advice anyone can take to periodically succeed.

  • Most men have been in at least one fist fight in their life of various level. It is something we think about, fear and respect. I find it very funny they chose a women to ask these questions since in western society it is unacceptable to even touch a woman and we can see the unintended of this. But to answer in short we really respect the art and the athletes who volunteer to do something that most men try hard to avoid doing.. Despite the rhetoric)

  • Because fighting is universal throughout all of history the best fighters were always respected and fantasied. Who cares if ur the best basketball player or baseball player in the world. When ur the best fighter people look at u different. Also from my small sample size it seems women are more naturally interested in fighting as opposed to football or baseball. Women love it

  • “The stereotype is that MMA is popular with guys that are just super aggressive amd violent” that stereotype literally only exists among guardianista types and self proclaimed “civilised” (effeminate) men.

  • mens are biologically wired to fight through all human existence from primitive people to modern the genes of men are still existing , Womans are not biologically or natyraly fighters its against their nature

  • We love pure violence, ever since the colosseum we have had this sport. Only a few hundred years ago are ancestors were fighting in wars, so in a way it’s human nature.

  • This chick is annoying. + even the concept is dumb, humans have been fighting from day1! Its in our nature. Humans NEED a way 2 release the pent up anger

  • When i see "modern masculinity" paired with "The Guardian", I was expecting unlimited cringe. But surprisingly, it was okay. Kudos.

  • i don't really think that fighting is hard wired into us. we are able to, and it can easily creep into a person's instinct, but i don't think it hard-wired in