As a thriving industry that continues to expand its fan base across international markets, the sport of mixed martial arts now communicates with a wide variety of stakeholders that comes with being a mainstream sport.

From avid viewers old and new, to professional media, broadcasters and sponsors, business folk of the MMA realm are recognizing the need to appeal to this diverse group of interests in a cost friendly and flexible fashion. That’s where online video comes into play.

Taking the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words,” video content is a bright and vibrant way of engaging, educating and entertaining viewers to great lengths in a short, concise manner, one that crosses borders, genres and time zones to cater to the widest audience possible and embrace the sport’s truly international aspect. It’s diverse in material, unique in format, free of cost, and unified in the betterment of the sport.

Over the next few weeks, we will examine the styles of video content being actively applied in the world of MMA to improve the sport’s credibility and appease an audience thirsty for regular content. We start this collection with the genre of animated parody, represented by the popular YouTube series “The Tommy Toe Hold Show.”

It is ironic and hard to believe that animated parody can enhance the serious credibility of its subject matter, but that is what “The Tommy Toe Hold Show”—TTTHS, for short—is doing. Investing time and effort into the parody, the creator bestows a legitimate value on the sport, which is amplified by the number of viewers attracted, as he organizes various skits abound with comedic impersonations and satirical analysis.

Embracing the genre of comedy from which successful shows like Family Guy and South Park have risen to prominence in the mainstream entertainment sphere, TTTHS combines animation and parody for the enjoyment of the MMA subculture. This entails identifying and drawing humor from a variety of topical narratives, character traits and interactions in the sport, from the Vitor Belfort-Chael Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva debacle, to the unique cadence of Anderson Silva’s voice and exaggerated storyline of UFC (Dana) “White Pass.”

The series’ animated format projects a vibrancy that stems from bright colors, erratic movement and, in this particular case, a loud and vocal mascot. In a sea of MMA-themed video content, these qualities help to make the show stand out, paving the way for attracting new viewers while endearing the show to sponsors, including Kountermove.com and It’s Time, who recognize the show’s dynamism and influence among MMA fans.

This benefit is combined with the lower production values of animation, providing a time-efficient and low-cost means of entertaining a dedicated pool of viewers who are receptive to the most inside of jokes. In cases like TTTHS, crude animation is recognized and embraced as a comedic element in its own right. In the realm of MMA, where dexterity and agility are two highly regarded qualities, the limitations and rigidity of animation are scrutinized to create a stronger natural parallel to benefit the show.

Breaking from reality, the animated platform is also more receptive to originality through its liberty to break convention. As an example, the freedom to exaggerate the erratic movement of characters can add to the paralinguistic comedic value of a skit. It is a liberty that also benefits the comedic techniques of non-sequiturs (random humor) and timing, especially among the show’s more unusual running jokes, like Georges St-Pierre’s affiliation with aliens or the literalization of Chan Sung Jung’s “Zombie” moniker.

Another feature of MMA that endears itself to animated parody content is the rich array of personalities in the sport. The genre’s appeal lies in its empowering of the viewer, who feels a sense of reward and satisfaction upon realizing the nuances of an impression. Wild characters with distinct traits are the most effective fuel source for this process.

Ray Longo is a perfect example of the show’s characterization of MMA professionals. Longo’s thick Long Island accent and tough demeanor combine with notable sound bites to endear him to the sport’s viewers. His use of explicit language and the show’s recreation of that (“Punch a hole through his fucking chest!”) blends the subtly of effective impressions with the blatant appeal of curse words to provide rich content with wide appeal among fans of the sport who are aware of Longo, his demeanor and his great success as a coach of two UFC champions.

Less likely to be understood outside of the sport’s circle, the show’s creator can indulge in recurring jokes for an educated fan base, giving certain bits more longevity and improving the show’s sustainability. At the same time, using animation and parody videos as a response to topical events, current affairs and breaking industry news opens the show up to a wide selection of organic ideas for content and new material. The show’s ability to blend new and recurring content is a testament to its quality and the loyalty and appreciation for its niche humor among educated viewers. Using the momentum of news stories and their amplification across both the industry and wider mainstream outlets, TTTHS can also attract new viewers, using a temporary rush of media attention to expand its profile across a larger audience.

Combining several comedic elements into a succinct 10-minute video, distributed on a regular and almost daily basis, “The Tommy Toe Hold Show” is a stellar example of how animation and parody can be applied to great success in the world of MMA. The intense physical action and larger-than-life personas create a volatile comedic cocktail that entertains MMA fans while developing the sport’s brands.

About The Author

Aidan O'Connor
Staff Writer

A native of Maidstone, England, Aidan has been covering MMA in a news or feature capacity since 2010. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Aidan also runs the MMAmusing Twitter account and enjoys the sport as an avid enthusiast. A graduate in English and American Studies, he currently works in marketing and public relations.