Understanding MMA: A Fighter’s Perspective.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study explores mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter's experiences, including what it is to practice such an intense sport surrounded by sanctioned sporting violence. Through in depth interviews I was able to probe three fighters on different aspects of their MMA involvement, including what it is to be a fighter, their opinions on the obstacles they must often overcome, key aspects of their habitus and how they handle pain. A thematic content analysis led to the emergence of five themes – 'Physical Intensity and Health', 'Violence', 'Sacrifice and Intrinsic Values', 'Pain, Safety, and Masculinity', and 'The Fight'. I was also able to shed some light into the real people behind the brutish moniker that is often placed upon them for their involvement in MMA. Components of each theme are discussed under their corresponding headings in regard to the responses that were given to me, analysed in relation to wider literature such as Spencer’s habitus and masculinity studies, (2009; 2012) and Hirose and Pih’s work on pain (2010). The piece looked solely on the three male amateur fighters, whilst further research could be expanded onto other population groups such as females, professionals and beginners. The findings also suggested possible future approaches might usefully also include narrative analysis.
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