I recently posted this on Facebook and it generated some solid discussion. So, I figured it was worth posting here as well. Please feel free to add your comments.
I have come to point (a while ago actually) where I have stopped following and for the most part caring about "mainstream" MMA (UFC, Bellator, etc). It just does not excite me any longer. Of course there are a few fighters I care about enough to follow, but generally I just won't go out of my way.
At the risk of sounding like an old fart longing for the "good old days," there is just too much MMA now. I feel the market is close to over-saturated (if it is not already); impersonal. I sincerely miss the days where I knew all the fighters by name, cared about their development and progression; the feeling that I knew them as people. These days there are just too many to follow, know about or care about. Each new guy is the next P4P sensation and he is just as quickly forgotten. No personalities to invest in.
Honestly, it is the amateurs and lower level pros where I still feel like a true MMA fan; where I can know the guys (sometimes personally) and follow their progression. These are the guys and gals with awesome stories, drive & personalities - people I can invest my time and energy into following. It is in the amateur ranks where I feel most excited and engaged; like I felt back in the day when the sport was new. It still feels like a personal experience.
This is why I care so much for getting amateur MMA properly regulated. These are the folks fighting simply for the love of it, but neglected by our state. To me, regulation of amateur MMA is way more critical than pro in NY. It affects vastly more people. I love this sport and it is with the up and coming guys where I see the same love, passion and self sacrifice...just to fight for free. Amateurs may not bring in big money to our state, but these guys are the bedrock of our sport. They are who keep the sport exciting for me. They are the folks who still make me feel like a true fan.