'Serious sport' (archives)
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Eighteen of the best Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters in the world are scheduled to arrive in Israel on November 9 to take exchange blows in Tel Aviv's Nokia arena. The fighters, who have been elevated to god-like status around the world, will take on some local fighters as well.
The full contact combat sport is immensely popular around the world, with billions of dollars in annual revenue. The MMA's fan base in Israel has been growing steadily since local television stations began airing the bouts regularly.
Ticket prices for fight night at Nokia arena range from NIS 99 ($26) to NIS 1,000 ($265) near the octagon "cage."
Former heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez, "The African Assassin" Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou Nkamhoua and Jeff Monson are among the MMA stars who are due to appear in Tel Aviv.
An article published in the US described the MMA fighters as the perfect athletes.
Ido Pariente, 33, a fighter and trainer, says MMA demands "strength, athleticism, flexibility and more balance than in any other sport."
Many critics say the sport is too violent, but Pariente rejects this claim. "You can't call a sport in which the competitors are under close medical supervision and need a license to compete barbaric," he says.
"It's not what people think. It's not just about people fighting in a cage. This is a serious sport."
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