From niche sports to major events for everyone
Spectacular punches, kicks and Wuge techniques. Mixed martial arts is getting more and more popular. A report from the “toughest league in Germany” in the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
While Berlin was briefly covered by the first snowstorms, things were not romantic at all in the Mercedes-Benz Arena at the Ostbahnhof. The 62nd “We Love MMA” event took place there on Saturday evening. There is also talk of “Germany’s toughest league”, in which the 6000 spectators were able to marvel at ten fights. But what exactly is mixed martial arts and where does the success come from in this country? MMA then also grew in Germany, brought forth dazzling personalities and has developed from a niche sport to a spectacular major event.
MMA is a full-contact sport and combines several traditional and non-traditional martial arts: boxing, kickboxing, karate, taekwando, muay thai, classic ground fighting, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. In the martial-looking octagon cage, two fighters face each other for three times five minutes, unless the fight is ended by a submission or a knock-out. Sometimes the referee also intervenes if a fight becomes too one-sided and the loser needs to be protected.
The martial art is considered male-dominated, with many women watching in the arena. “I box myself and I wanted to watch top-class fights again,” says one visitor. In many ways, it is worth taking a closer look at the sport of MMA. The audience applauds each fighter, the fighters treat each other with respect: they give high fives before and after the fight, after which they partially hug, shake hands with the opposing team of coaches. In any case, there was no trace of rowdy behavior on this Saturday evening.
We love MMA 62 – thanks to Berlin
The event was also to be understood as a kind of homage by the MMA organizers to Berlin, since the league has its origins in the German capital. In 2010, however, the competitions were still held in the much smaller Universal Hall in Moabit. A giant step for MMA sport just from the venue in twelve years.
And so MMA fighters from the capital took center stage. An East Berlin derby heralded the evening with a fight between Jann Jentzen from the Pankow “Boxtempel Berlin” and Tamio Lüftner from the Trigoon martial arts school in Köpenick. After 1:30 minutes, however, the first fight was quickly decided: victory went to Jentzen with a choke.
The next fights each lasted less than two rounds. Maximilian Pick also won after a “choke” against the Peruvian Sebastian Salazar, Davlet Karataev was able to win against Till Fiedler. Ayman Saliev had to abandon the fight against Nicolas Hose before the start of the second round, but after that it was carried out for the first time. Between Ken Masters and Adnan Omar, it looked like a win for Omar for a long time. However, Masters was able to free himself from a hopeless situation with his feet and finally defeat his opponent.
The fight highlighted the complexities of MMA. A good ground or fist fight is not enough, but the mix of all these martial arts must be mastered almost flawlessly. Especially in the higher weight classes, every second can be decisive, and there are often surprising twists and turns during the fights.
The dream of the big hit – from McGregor to Chabib
“What’s your next step and who is it against?” the moderator asks one of the MMA athletes. Quite a few dreams of a great career, many of the fighters are only around 20 years old. Martial arts have produced some personalities. On the one hand there is Conor McGregor from Ireland, one of the highest earning athlete of the world. It is rumored that he is even interested in buying the glorious Liverpool FC. Khabib Nurmagomedov, who comes from Dagestan, is also a legend in the martial arts scene. The Russian was an undefeated world champion, wanted to improve the reputation of MMA, and spoke publicly about respectful cooperation between athletes.
The fair treatment was also confirmed in the second part of the Berlin fight evening. Despite the age difference, Mansur Kovraev from Russia won against Max Müller, who was ten years his senior. Majerbek Bajtulaev was able to use his home field advantage and win against Nikolas Wilemski from “Lee Gym Hannover”. After Baytulaev’s victory, his coach spoke highly of his apprentice. However, he was also called upon by the audience that evening, which was probably enthusiastic. “This sport is something for everyone,” he said, hoping that MMA will continue to grow in Germany. The events have already made it into the Mercedes-Benz Arena or the Olympic Park in Munich. “It’s still a long way before we get to where the USA, Brazil and Russia are, but I see great potential for MMA in Germany,” said the coach.
At the end of the last fight night of the year, however, there were still a few crackers. Aslan Badaev won another Berlin duel against Kevin Amacher on points. It was the first fight of the night to go the full 15 minutes. In the penultimate match-up, too, the winner was only determined after the judges had judged: Sajad Sharifi won his “away game” against Yunus Emre Genciz from the “Spitfire Berlin” martial arts school.
The “highlight”, as announced by the moderator, only came at the end of the evening for the thousands of viewers. On screen this fight was already decided in the first round, in which Ahmad Halimson won against Qaisar Amel Cher. For the organizer of an MMA evening that will definitely come back to Berlin. Most of the spectators were also satisfied. “I want to come back next time,” a friend told her companion on the way home.
Do you have feedback? Write us! [email protected]