Let’s be very clear, Mixed Martial Arts is a Sport, it is not a Fight. There are no referees or weight classes in a Fight. A Fight has no time limits or one minute breaks. There is no sportsmanship, no hugging and congratulating your opponent at the end. In a Fight, groin shots, eye pokes and neck strikes are not only legal but encouraged (as evident by every single first day of every self defense class taught anywhere on the planet.) Pulling hair, biting and running away are not considered cowardly but effective. In a Fight, chairs, tables, walls, bricks, rocks, sticks, bottles and anything else at hand is fair game and useful for “significant strikes” and no one is allowed to tap out.
Fights are free. They’re free to watch, free to join and free to start. You don’t need any special training, you don’t have to be the same size as the other fighter, you don’t even have to be sober. The highest ranked black belt in Jujitsu goes down just as easy as anyone else when he takes a bat to the back of the head. A Fight favors the merciless over the studied.
A Fight is a brutal, ugly, dangerous altercation where the winner will most likely go to jail as opposed to a press conference and the loser is either going to the hospital or the morgue.
No. Mixed Martial Arts is not a Fight, it is a Sport. It is populated by highly trained and highly skilled athletes. Men and women that have dedicated their lives to honing their craft and pitting their skills against each other in tests for physical and mental superiority. Like in other sports, we watch to see people that have pushed their bodies beyond normal limitation in hopes of becoming something slightly more than human.
Some people like to say that MMA is the closet thing you can get to legally seeing a real fight. I say why chuck down $40-$60 a Saturday night to watch two people get into a simulated fight when there are hundreds of free ones happening in every city and town a the same time. Just go to the bar (you know which ones) and wait, or simply turn on the interwebz.
We call these events “Fights” for lack of a better term, but in truth, they are more Contests. Contests between some of the highest level athletes sports has ever known. Gone are the days where out of shape “bar room brawlers” can compete at the highest level of MMA. And rightfully so. Gone are the days where two individuals can circle each other for 30+ minutes with out showing any offense. And rightfully so. Today’s MMA has the best athletes in the world competing against each other and it’s due to the fact that we are a sport. Judges, weight classes, unified rules, athletic commissions, referees, all the things we love to complain about and point blame at are precisely the things that have transformed MMA from a watered down Fight to the fastest rising Sport in the world.
MMA is not a Fight, and I’m glad for it.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports