Created: Thu, 06 Feb 2014 12:16:00 EST
Updated: Thu, 06 Feb 2014 12:18:28 EST
Mixed Martial Arts, under it's flagship brand the UFC, is the fastest growing sport in the world. It is the fastest growing sport in the United States and it may be the fastest growing sport in Middle Georgia.
MMA gyms like Rush MMA in Macon are filling up and now the Mid-State's biggest employer is getting in on the act.
No longer regulated to backyard brawls or foreign countries, mixed martial arts has become mainstream.
"It was almost unheard of and now it's on FOX. One of the most major networks in television today. So, I've seen it grow immensely," says Cole Miller, UFC Featherweight.
If seeing ads for UFC fights during an NFL game is not enough to convince you of the sports growth, consider this. Brands like ESPN, UnderArmour, Gatorade, and K-Swiss all use UFC Fighters to advertise their products.
And one of the UFC's biggest sponsors, the United States Marines.
Fighter and Rush MMA Owner Bubby Mitchell thinks it's a sponsorship that makes a lot of sense.
"You find a lot of your elite forces today are implementing Brazilian jujitsu, and basic boxing, and mixed martial arts into their programs. And some form of grappling art, as well as, a lot of your police and government trained officers," says Bubby Mitchell, Owner of Rush MMA.
Our troops at Robins Air Force Base are interested in the sport. That interest has been rewarded with a brand new mixed martial arts fitness room.
"The MMA room is one where several of our deployable units made request where they wanted somewhere they could train for hand-to-hand combat, other kinds of physical training, so we wanted to provide a room that had the tools necessary to provide that," says Scott Peavy, Fitness Program Coordinator.
And mixed martial arts is not just for fighters. It's catching on as fitness program that's fun for everyone.
"As far as the workout routine, in my experience and I've been doing this about 15 years, it's a pretty top-notch high intensity form of training," says Scott Peavy, Fitness Program Coordinator.
So what kind of people walk through the doors of Macon's Rush MMA?
"Everybody. Everybody and anybody. Like I said, we have college students. We have moms, dads. We have the young professional, the retired worker. Everyone you can imagine has walked through these doors and still do to this very day to look for some form of fitness and self-defense. And some even want to compete," says Bubby Mitchell, Owner of Rush MMA.
Macon's own UFC Fighter Cole Miller regularly turns up at Rush MMA to train and coach.
21-8 as a professional, after a victory in Duluth earlier this year that cost him a broken hand, Cole has a word of warning for those looking to fight in the big leagues.
"A lot of people do think that they can come in, they can just put a little bit of work in and they can make it to the UFC. Sad to tell you, that's just not the case. I've been doing this for 10 years now and I had to fight 10 amateur fights. I was an amateur a year and a half and then I had to turn pro, and I was a professional for 3 years before I even got my foot in the door, into the UFC. It's very difficult. Most people who practice mixed martial arts and even compete will never make it to the UFC."