7 year old youth Pankration competitor on CNN

by Kirik Jenness
February 5, 2013

 When mainstream media looks at MMA, the results can be comical, sometimes dangerously so.

For example, a number of sites inlcuding ESPN are now citing the number of children under the age of 13 participating in MMA in the USA as 3,200,000, and the number of gyms as 30,000. As the sport's official records keeper, over the past five years, we have issued only 30k licenses to fight, which would mean each imaginary school produces one fighter every five years, an absurdity.

As the commissioner of NAGA, I have my finger on the pulse of youth grappling competitors, and the figure of 3,000,000 kids doing MMA (approximately 1/20) is lunatic. By comparison, the New York Times cites the number of youth Soccer players in the USA at a comparable 4,000,000. The youth MMA figure is 50% higher than the number of kids playing Little League. The figures, and the reporting, are stupid.

It is sad when the UG Blog with all its made up headlines corrects the mainstream media, but the truth is the truth. And the truth is, where MMA is concerned, mainstream media does not just sensationalize, they spread untruths with impunity.

Kyra Phillips' Raising America recently profiled a youth Pankration (no face strikes or punching on the ground) competitor in California. Although the piece was not particularly slanted, the potential for irresponsible journalism around youth MMA and youth grappling is huge.

Below Phillips talks to one mom, Bernadette Thorne, and her son Aiden, who was actually a pretty good spokesboy for the martial arts.