MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va (Jan 26, 2010) --
Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Gabriel Gonzaga grunted loudly as he helped pass a man-sized practice dummy up to Sgt. Shurron Thompson, a Marine Corps martial arts instructor, while negotiating an obstacle course during a recent visit.
Gonzaga and fellow UFC fighters Davis Marcus, Forrest Griffin and Brian Stann spent two days familiarizing themselves with Marines and the Corps’ mission, values and ethos to better prepare for their partnership with the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Recruiting Command is partnering with UFC to raise awareness of the Marine Corps and promote opportunities available to qualified young men and women.
“(The Marine Corps and UFC) lifestyles are ones that understand the importance of training, functional fitness, an appreciation for competitive or combative development, and brotherhood,” said Capt. Salvatore Nigro, media officer, MCRC. “By leveraging the warrior lifestyle between the Marine Corps and UFC, the Corps’ leverages considerable interest in the UFC among enlistment prospects to increase their awareness in the Marine Corps and to encourage them to ask for more information about service as a Marine.”
Though Marines share this warrior spirit with UFC fighters, opponents worry about the impact of the partnership on the Corps’ image. Some view the UFC as nothing more than a staged blood sport with scantily clad “ring girls” and street brawlers looking to inflict maximum damage on their opponents. However, since Zuffa LLC took ownership of the organization in 2001, the UFC has worked to make mixed martial arts a professional and respectable sport.
The UFC organization transformed MMA into a controlled combat sport, establishing weight classes, clearly defined rules and judging criteria, state sanctioning, and drug testing for fighters before and after the competitions. The UFC also hired Marc Ratner, former head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, to serve as vice president of Regulatory Affairs to facilitate continued efforts to make MMA a professional sport.
In addition, the UFC works to select fighters with character, according to Stann, a former Marine Corps captain. Fighters who show poor sportsmanship don’t last in the organization, he explained, because the UFC doesn’t want that behavior in the sport.
“If you are not a humble person in the UFC you will wash out,” said Stann. “The UFC enforces humility, and it enforces character.”
These retooled standards and a focus on professionalism and values make the similarities between the Marines and UFC more apparent than in years past.
“Fighters in UFC use a combination of MMA. Although the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is not the same as MMA, the two disciplines share a number of similarities, both philosophical and in practice,” said Nigro.
To live the warrior lifestyle one must strive each day to remain physically fit and mentally strong. It is a mindset, a culture and a lifelong personal conviction, Nigro added.
“There is more to the partnership than the similarities between fighting techniques used in the UFC and the Marine Corps,” said Nigro. “The UFC is also seen to most as a brotherhood with self-discipline, personal sacrifice, training and fitness just as the Marines are.”
These similarities made a partnership between the two organizations a natural fit and provide the Marine Corps an avenue to share opportunities with fans who relate to the sport.
For many young people age 17-24, professional sports are a main source of entertainment, according to Nigro. Joining with UFC will heighten their awareness that the Marine Corps lifestyle could be the choice for them.
The partnership includes extensive presence throughout 12 episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter,” a television show that helps amateur fighters earn contracts with the UFC. One episode will show Marines and fighters training together, trading tips, and teaching each other techniques.
The UFC will also include the Marine Corps in 10 pay-per-view events, two of which will include short excerpts of Marines and UFC fighters trading fighting techniques. In addition, content from training vignettes with Marines and fighters will be posted on www.UFC.com, and Marines will provide recruiting booths at 10 UFC fights around the country. Fans can also check out the new partnership trailer called “A Path for Warriors: Marine Corps and UFC” on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWQHdDawQKw.
he partnership with UFC presents a new and unique way for the Marine Corps to share opportunities with men and women who are drawn to the values and attributes shared by the two organizations, such as honor, courage and commitment. For more information on becoming a Marine, visit www.Marines.com or call 1-800-MARINES.