Biggest surprise when reporting this article: There are still some people who have never heard of mixed martial arts. Seriously? By some measures, it is now more popular than boxing (which, granted, is not that popular anymore). Plus it’s the subject of a pretty lousy MTV reality show. But somehow it’s still a kind of “underground” phenomenon, probably because a lot of people still associate it with the “no-holds-barred,” Thunderdome-style blood orgy it was in the early 90s. And because it’s still illegal in a few states, including New York. But as MMA has evolved into a sophisticated, somewhat domesticated combat sport, it’s also come to represent for a generation of men what boxing was to their fathers: the ultimate measure of manhood and guts.