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If someone is involved in a sport, you would say they are playing that sport. You can play baseball, basketball and football, but you can’t play fighting. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a sport that requires intelligence, strength and toughness, both mentally and physically.

It takes months of training and preparation for a fighter to get ready for a fight. Even with MMA’s biggest promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), making real efforts to make the sport look legitimate, some people still look at it as overly violent and unprofessional. Some would not even call it a sport at all.

Personally, MMA is one of my favorite sports to watch. Everything from the presentation of the fight event to the action that takes place inside the octagon. I have even done some MMA training of my own, mainly kickboxing and some Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

One of the main lessons I have learned from those experiences is that the sport of MMA is not about beating someone up — it teaches discipline and patience.

MMA is a violent sport, that can’t be debated. However, the respect that most fighters show after the final round surpasses any showing of respect in all other sports.

The Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva fight at the UFC 234 event is a perfect example of that. After the fight was over, the two bowed to each other, shared multiple hugs and showed that even when you are a part of a sport that requires punching and trying to submit your opponent, the respect is there.

One of the greatest aspects about the UFC is that it allows its fighters to promote themselves. Most nonsports fans would have a hard time identifying Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout. That is not the case for fighters like Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones.

MMA is a sport that, in my opinion, demands respect. The amount of training and preparation that a fighter goes through pales in comparison to any other sport. The months of prepping for a fight is something that has to be respected.

For me, MMA has helped me get through my own troubles and problems. If I ever find myself in a situation where I am overly upset or angry, I can take it out on a punching bag.

MMA has also helped me keep a healthy lifestyle. Instead of going to a gym, I practice my punching and kicking, as well as my jiu-jitsu moves.

MMA has been one of the best discoveries in my life. It has helped me develop physical strength and mental strength as well. I know that whatever I am going through, whatever challenges I may face in the future, I have the strength to fight through it and become a better person because of it.