For years, the world of mixed martial arts has been under tremendous scrutiny by those who would just as soon see it abolished altogether due to the severe and violent nature of the sport. Some have even called it “human cockfighting,” but the reality is that mixed martial arts (for the most part) is a sport like any other, and behind the violent, bloody surface, lies an entire warrior culture, rich with tradition, respect and honour. Or at least, that’s how it should be.
Today, as I was driving in my car, I was more than a little bit surprised as I listened to a commercial for this weekend’s upcoming pay-per-view—one that included a sound bite from a UFC fighter (I believe it was Nick Diaz—the poster boy for disrespectful behaviour), as the UFC consciously and subtly told the fans that his upcoming fight was sure to be a real “dog fight.” I can only assume that they meant the kind that landed Michael Vick in prison (great visual for the sport by the way), and not the kind that saw WWII fighter planes battling it out thousands of feet in the air.
Despite being the biggest organization in MMA today, the UFC obviously feels that the traditional route of martial arts is far too boring and uninteresting for any would-be fans. So instead, they have adopted the “pro-wrestling” angle of disrespect and violence when promoting their upcoming fights. This is due to the fact that the pro-wrestling fanbase is a much bigger group than those who would appreciate the art behind the more conventional (although less popular) martial arts systems.
The sad result is that the majority of today’s MMA fans are now all too eager to pay out big money just for the privilege of watching one fighter knock out another until he falls flat on the mat, completely unconscious—that’s it—that’s all that they really care about. The rest is just filler. And if a knockout doesn’t occur, then that fighter is immediately labelled as “boring,” and is either fired from the organization for playing it too safe, or publicly ridiculed by the fans (and the promoters) for failing to entertain them in an appropriate way.
This certainly isn’t the first time that the UFC has sacrificed the sport for money and it sure won’t be the last. UFC fans continue to rave about what Dana White and the UFC have done for the sport in order to bring it up to the mainstream level (sorry, not quite there yet), but the sad truth is that the good times are gone and the days of the UFC putting the needs of the sport above their own have completely left the building.
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