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Fight Night Breakdown: Pro Wrestling Vs. Mixed Martial Arts and Why Fans Are So Divided

As die-hard fans are quick to point out, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling are two very distinct sports. Fans are divided to the point of rivalry, but many outsiders can’t seem to understand why. So, what’s the deal?

The truth is, enthusiasts on each side are drawn to different aspects of the competition. Vast variations in personality, performance, and overall experience leave some fans no choice but to choose sides.

Differences in Fighter Personality in the Ring

The live experience is perhaps the most vital factor for fans of any sport. There’s nothing more thrilling than watching your favorite fighters go head to head in the ring, but this looks a lot different for MMA fans than it does for wrestling buffs.

MMA is all about showcasing techniques from many disciplines and using skill to win. Wrestlers display their fair share of prowess when it comes to grappling, but the sport is more about personality.

For wrestling fans, the outcome of a fight isn’t the most important part. Instead, they’re more focused on the journey and the characters which clash in the ring. The athletes who compete are there more for the audience than for themselves, and matches are interactive and fun. On the other side, MMA fighters take themselves quite seriously, and competitions have an undertone of gravity.

Of course, that isn’t to say fighters can’t wear both hats. AEW’s Jake Hager made the switch, as did many other wrestling greats like Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar. In fact, some believe that pro wrestling is one of the best backgrounds an MMA fighter can have.

Judging by the success of various fighters who have made the transition, that could be correct—though it may be a hard pill for MMA fans to swallow.

Betting on Wrestling Matches Vs. MMA Fights

Wagering on matches is a major pastime for mixed martial arts enthusiasts. Odds for MMA can be found at many online venues in many states, including those like Pennsylvania, which have only recently legalized online wagering. For example, northern residents in need of a PA sportsbook can browse through Unibet Odds to find upcoming matches they want to bet on, while those in other states have their own array of options for wagering.

In contrast, odds for pro wrestling matches are more difficult to find. However, that doesn’t mean betting on wrestling is impossible. More and more American sportsbooks are beginning to offer wrestling, and betting adds an extra thrill for those watching from the sidelines.

A Contrast of Culture & Performance

The background and culture surrounding a sport can also have a major impact on how fans view it and whether it resonates with them. MMA draws its influence from different regions around the world, with roots in a variety of fighting styles old and new.

It relies heavily on technical skill but lacks the storyline and artistic performance which makes wrestling so special.

Wrestling is and has always been a sport of entertainment, with a rich history beginning in the late 1800s after the Civil War ended. The first wrestlers performed along with circuses to draw in a crowd, and their theatrical style captured the hearts of people across the country.

While MMA and pro wrestling are very different, it’s undeniable that each holds its own appeal. They simply cater to different personality types and audience members’ needs.

Despite the differences, it’s important to appreciate the art of any combat sport. After all, you never know—an open mind may just leave you with a healthy appreciation for a facet of entertainment you never knew you loved.

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AEW TV RATINGS: Dynamite Finishes 33rd, NXT 67th, January 20th, 2021

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*Updated 1/22/2021
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