“There’s a false dichotomy separating MMA fans. Supposedly, there’s a camp that watches fights for entertainment and another one that wants to know the identity of the best fighter. It’s the “Spectacle vs. Sport” debate that all too often boils down to a pair of shrugging shoulders; “MMA is both spectacle and sport,” the wise man says as he strokes his beard.
While both streams ultimately lead to the same sea of watching people punch each other, there’s a single source behind the divergent paths: curiosity. The desire to learn is a powerful human instinct, and both categories of fandom scratch that itch in different ways. Discovering who is the best or how they are the best is an obvious function of learning, and witnessing something new and spectacular — getting surprised by MMA’s athletic and violent possibilities — is itself a way of taking in new information. Such exposure to something new, even when it’s passive, certainly qualifies as a type of learning. The preferred aesthetics differ between those who want to be entertained and those who want to see elite competition determine which fighters really are the best, but those aesthetics are underpinned by a similar impulse of curiosity.
That is why watching One Championship’s “Unstoppable Dreams” was such a vastly superior viewing experience than UFC Fight Night 129 over the weekend…”