R5 The Ultimate Sport

It’s been a long time coming, but it seems as if the mixed martial arts movement finally may have knocked out boxing—for good.

For the uninitiated, mixed martial arts—or MMA—is a full-contact, combat sport that combines wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, and a myriad of martial arts disciplines into one extreme competition. Because of this, fighting fans’ attention has strayed away from both the staid, traditional boxing and the fake, theatrical pro wrestling. Take Brock Lesner, for example. The current heavyweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)—the biggest league for pro MMA fighting—Lesner was once a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) heavyweight champion and also did a stint in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. But his fame is arguably at its highest right now.

MMA’s own popularity is evidenced by its explosion onto the airwaves (e.g., its pay-per-view fights on cable, CBS’s prime-time MMA specials, and Spike TV’s slate of MMA programming) and by its inclusion in exercise programs. Many gyms today offer MMA training classes, among them the Strata Health Club (4 Gannett Dr, West Harrison, 914-694-4656), which offers “Maximum Intensity MMA Conditioning with Robert Cannon.”

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“MMA is the hottest thing right now,” says Cannon, a certified personal trainer who cut his MMA teeth at world-renowned fighter Renzo Gracie’s facility in Manhattan. “Wrestling, kick-boxing, jiu-jitsu, judo, Tae Kwon Do, karate, and Muay Thai are all good. What makes MMA better is it encompasses all of these arts.” Classes are offered at Strata on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 pm ($129 a month/$25 per session).

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