My dad can't stand "that MMA stuff" and of course he thinks his little girl is insane for loving it. He called me today to tell me that he saw the woman's champ on the Weather Channel. She was doing the weather and showing Stephanie Abrams how to do an arm lock. He actually said arm lock! And rather then expressing his usual disgust, he actually sounded interested in it! I was in shock!!
You have to understand that I have been trying to get my folks to understand the sport and see the beauty and athleticism in MMA for quite some time. I've done some MMA writing in the past and profiled different fighters. I always try to emphasize the humanistic side to them. It's funny because my mom, who was once the biggest cynic, now loves some of the guys I've interviewed. She asks, "How is that nice young man Chris doing?" She plans on watching Weidman fight for the title, although she'll be covering her eyes most of the time. So I feel like I've changed some minds. But I could never quite convince my dad that these people are more then just what you see in the cage, more than fighters. They're your neighbors, your sons and daughters. They are just doing their job, trying to support their family, and many are college educated athletes. He saw blood and all of that became irrelevant.
However, when he watched Ronda Rousey today he opened up to the idea that MMA is not this Neandethal barbaric sport that he envisioned it to be. He actually asked me who was fighting in NJ this weekend and when Ronda was fighting next! We had a conversation. We even talked about BJJ. So Ronda may be a polarizing figure in MMA, and people may have they're doubts about WMMA in general but I think she definitely has the ability to make this sport more mainstream. I'm just happy she went on the Weather Channel today because she just opened up a dialogue between me and my dad that was never there before.