MMA has now been around for 20 years. In an early version of the sport, matches used to end only with knockout, surrender, doctor’s intervention, and sometimes death. This is why former US presidential candidate John McCain, who boxed in the navy, once famously categorized MMA "a human cockfighting", and tried his best to ban it.
Nowadays, MMA is growing in popularity across Italy, even though there is some resistance, as press and public opinion are scared of the violence of the shows. But there is no doubt MMA in Italy is now closer to mainstream acceptance, thanks to Frank Merenda, the Italian entrepreneur who co-created the Italian MMA largest promotion company, Venator Fighting Championship, together with the TV commentator Alex Dandi. While MMA competitors seek fame and fortune, their supporters claim that the fight is more about respect, honour and hard work, than just kicking and punching. To many, the sport is a symbol of Italian civil society in times of economical crisis, high level of youth unemployment, violence, and lack of future perspective. MMA competitions are a safe way to teach how to use anger and convert it into a positive output.