In a time where sports fans appear to watch sporting events for shock value more than for the competition between two people or two teams, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), is a sports cancer that makes a mockery of athletics across all boundaries.No question, the athletes are - usually - in very good shape; they are extremely dedicated and love what they do.
However, when the goal in a sporting event is to concuss the other athlete and beat him within an inch of becoming a vegetable, there has to be a line drawn, wouldn't you say?
Some may read this and bring up sports like Greco-Roman wrestling and boxing.
Greco-Roman wrestling, for one, is about strength and submissions; it rarely has major injuries or even blood spilled on the canvas.
Boxing, for all its inherent flaws and undeniable corruption, is not as barbaric as MMA; the refereeing is not as lenient as MMA.
A boxing match is much more regimented and fair.
No one can tell me that it is a fair fight when one person is on top of another driving their opponent's head into the ground; it makes waiting for the referee to call one of these fights painful to watch.
Also, how long is the staying power for each of these fighters; I'm hard-pressed to name five fighters, and have watched upwards of 20 bouts over the past couple of years.
Kimbo Slice, only because he has garnered fame from his street fighting days and the MMA world is carting him around like Lobster Man in a circus freak show, Ken Shamrock, because of his days in WWE, and Shamrock's brother, Frank, are the names with some staying power.
This 'sport' is supposed to be immensely popular, but where are all of the stars?
Boxing has had numerous stars over the years; what is MMA's excuse?
Perhaps it might be the 'flavor of the week' nature of the sport; someone wins a couple pay-per-view bouts and starts to get name recognition, then gets their clock cleaned as people lose interest, moving on to the next poor soul who will have their 15 minutes of fame destroyed by a bad loss, bad injury or both.
This disgust for MMA is not coming from a prudish sports fan; but as a passionate football fan and a rugby player. Physical contact is not something to be afraid of in sport.
No, the problem comes about when the physical aspect of the game becomes the objective.
In football and rugby, the physicality is a by-product of the main goal: to outscore the opponents by getting the ball across the goal line or tryline, respectively.
Of course, injuries happen in these sports and people are often seriously hurt, but that can happen in most any sport, whether contact-related or not.
Even hockey, a 'violent' mainstream sport has an element of injury lurking during each shift, and while there are still trouble-makers that are involved in some instances, the physicality only supports the outcome of the game.
Hockey, like football and rugby, when you get right down to it, is about outclassing your opponent throughout the course of the game; there are regimented rules of what one can and cannot do, and when people break those rules, they are disciplined.
Where will the disciplinary action come from in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, International Fight League, or other like-minded organizations should someone die?
I'm not convinced it will be satisfactory, are you?
MMA is a very complex sport at its core, especially since so many fighting styles are thrown together to make one large-scale fighting event, but the problem is that these fighting styles, when mixed together, make the sport a frightening, unstable concoction that could explode at any time.
I don't think that MMA is salvageable when it comes to this problem; there are no rules specific enough to limit the injuries and irreparable damage that the fighters absorb, and it doesn't look like anything will happen too soon.
Perhaps we'll be left to hope that blood-lusting fans will wake up from their desensitized, violence-craving stupor and realize what MMA really is: A dangerous joke of a competition that will just get more barbaric the longer people decide to keep tuning in.