The much-anticipated inaugural event for YAMMA Pit fighting, brainchild of (in)famous MMA pioneer Bob Meyrowitz, was held in Atlantic City, NJ this weekend. When I say much-anticipated I mean for all of the wrong reasons. Many hardcore MMA fans were practically salivating at the potential hilarity that might ensue once this mysterious new fighting arena was unleashed on the world. Would this event rival be the ironically hysterical three ring circus that was K-1 Dynamite! USA? Would Butterbean roll down the incline of the YAMMA like a gravy-filled egg? Would Pat Smith say he’s been working on his ground game “just a little bit” in his post fight interview? The possibility for schadenfreude-tastic ridicule seemed limitless.
What transpired was actually the worst-case scenario for Meyrowitz: YAMMA was neither relevant to the MMA landscape nor was it ridiculous enough to entertain. What fans received was an 8 man heavyweight tournament with very little action of note and a few “Masters Series” bouts that failed to garner even the slightest bit of nostalgia in this longtime fan’s heart. To the fans that have discovered the sport in the last 5 years or so, this card was a veritable “Who’s That?” of mixed martial arts, featuring relatively unknown fighters comingled with once-great fighters like Mark Kerr and Ricco Rodriguez. It was an odd collection to say the least.
The ultimate irony of this experiment is the YAMMA itself: the event and the fighting area were designed to force exciting fights by eliminating clinching and pinning against the cage. The incline of the YAMMA, coupled with the absurd single 5 minute round bout structure, ultimately favored wrestlers that take opponents down and control from top position. Once fighters clinched and approached the incline, the elevation of the opponent’s legs made takedowns much easier. In the heavyweight tournament, the short bout time allowed Travis Wiuff to repeatedly take his opponents down and simply control for 5 minutes. Unsurprisingly, Wiuff won all of his fights by decision.
In an interview with Sherdog.com, Meyrowitz stated that they plan on their next event in June and that it will take several events to figure out the riddle of the YAMMA. With their first event in the bag the questions still linger as to how viable this promotion is and if it has a place in the current MMA landscape. The marketing and production was certainly an attempt at a throwback to the early days of MMA as spectacle, but this event fell far short of inspiring anything other than a desire to know who they think their audience is.