Twenty years ago, boxing reigned unopposed as the most popular fight sport in the world, with champion pugilists up there with Hollywood A-listers in the celebrity stakes (where some still linger, as Mike Tyson's cameos in the Hangover films surely attest).
Today's boxers, however, have been overshadowed by a new heavyweight sport - mixed martial arts (MMA). A controversial fringe sport during the 1990s, it gained popularity in the new century, thanks largely to its most popular organisation, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Its regular pay-per-view events have surged in popularity, with contests held all over the world (including Abu Dhabi for the 2010 event, "UFC 112").
Because of this and the popularity of its spin-off reality show The Ultimate Fighter (a contest to find new MMA talent), the more popular fighters from UFC have found fame outside of the sport. With athletes appearing in television shows and big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, and as the MMA-themed drama Warrior shows on cinema screens across the Emirates, what is it about this new breed of fighter that has the public so fascinated?
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