by Jed Minor (Production)
The life of a mixed martial arts (MMA) fan is hard. First of all everybody thinks that you are a bloodthirsty idiot. Furthermore people think that rather than being a sports aficionado, you are in fact what is wrong with the world, and a sure sign that the end is near.
While I have written numerous articles for this paper defending MMA I freely admit that sometimes I question my own love for the sport. It’s one thing to watch two finely tuned athletes perform at a high level in the octagon. It’s something different entirely to watch two journeymen lacking the ability to finish each other battering themselves bloody while plodding onward toward a split decision in a macabre display of human will. At this point MMA does seem to be a pointless glorification of senseless violence as many of it’s detractors claim.
I generally find myself on the positive side of the ledger when arguing the merits of MMA but recently I found my boosterism tested while watching UFC 115 in Vancouver. Rory MacDonald, a 20 year old fighter from Kelowna, fought veteran Carlos Condit, losing the fight in the third round by technical knockout due to strikes. It was heartbreaking. I had followed MacDonald for some time and watching the 20-year-old being humbled by repeated elbows and punches in the face was truly hard to watch.
It was then that I realized the difference between MMA fans and the followers of other sports. While the average sports fan may see their team lose a game by being “crushed by the opposition” they don’t usually have to watch their favourite player being literally crushed by the opposition. I say “usually” because of course both hockey and football are contact sports and injuries are common.
On the other hand there is a certain honesty to the violence in MMA. While hockey and football promote the violent aspects of their game as marketing angles, they tend to deny the drawing power that violence entails. Would the NFL be as popular without the crushing hits or would hockey be as compelling without fighting? At least in MMA you can see your opponent coming. The other fighter approaches from the opposite side of the ring and you don’t have to worry about someone concussing you with a blind-side hit or snapping your ACL with a low tackle from behind.
I don’t know whether it is because of the adrenaline rush of watching Georges St. Pierre execute a perfect superman punch or if it is just a way to cathartically release my own violent tendencies but chances are I will continue to watch and enjoy MMA. What I have finally realized I can’t do, however, is justify why I like MMA with logic.
Then again, the attraction of some of the most compelling things in life can’t be fully be explained with words; love, art, and for me, MMA.