UFC: Love it or Leave it

I recently participated in a long-winded discussion on Facebook. It started as a simple post by my politically active uncle. He wrote, ” I hate UFC with a capital H.” He is in his late fifties, early sixties and lives by his art as a musician.  He reads and participates in many political events. This is a well-read, educated man. I laughed when I saw his post because I knew before he posted that he would hate it. Let’s face it, most of my mom’s generation does.  Then a funny thing happened.

My brother came into the room and asked if I had been reading the dialogue that ensued from Uncle Bill’s  post. I tuned in quickly. Many of his friends agreed with nothing more than a “like” or a “here, here”. One friend went so far as to talk about (and I’m paraphrasing here) how it was two idiots bashing in each others brains for the entertainment of the blood thirsty idiots who pay to see that kind of thing. Oh, someone else said we were no better than the Romans and UFC proved we are regressing as society.

This got my brother a little worked up. He then posted that Chuck Liddell has a degree in Business and Rich Franklin has a Master’s in Education. He let the people know that they were business men as well as athletes who were quite active in non-profit and charity work. I will also add that Rich Franklin and a partner started a program called the Keep It In The Ring Foundation to help kids learn life skills while taking Martial Arts training. They had the fight of the evening.

Quickly Matt was told he was reading the posts wrong and that they were meaning to criticize the spectators, not the fighters.  That got me a little worked up.

I never miss a UFC. I love it. I had never even heard of it before my husband and I started dating. When I first started watching it, I thought it was reminiscent of gladiators. Blood for blood’s sake. My husband quickly taught me about the skill and strategy that goes into a mixed martial arts bout. Dale has a black belt in  Ju Jitsu  and a black belt in Karate. The ground work or cage work that some spectators boo and some referees break up is like a physical game of chess. Sure, Chuck Liddell is known for destroying his opponents. Sometimes, if someone gets a good choke and the “chokee” refuses to tap, they may be unconscious and one time I saw a guy twitching as he came to. Shocking. That is why there are seasoned refs watching every move.

Now the UFC in particular, with its larger than life dramatic promotions and Dana White, co-owner who has become the face of mixed martial arts, does have all the silly drama that comes with such programs, but the fights are pure athleticism. It makes me sad that someone would post, “Watched it once for a minute or so. I was shocked and repulsed,” and then goes on to belittle people who see beauty in this sport. I also felt shocked and repulsed the first. It is easy to have a knee jerk reaction to this sport. I refuse to force anyone to watch UFC, but I also find it interesting that people believe that I am a supporter of violence because I enjoy watching it.

I wish that Uncle and his supporters could have watched the fight between Mirko Cro Cop (who was a member of the Croatian Special Forces Tactical Unit) and Pat Barry. What an awesome match! After an amazing exchange, the crowd went wild. Mirko, with his left eye swollen to almost shut, made eye contact with Pat and they both smiled and laughed. They continued laughing and then hugged each other, acknowledging their great work together. The ref circled round and told them to, “stop hugging and get to work.” AWESOME. This is exactly what the sport is about. I won’t tell you how the bout ended, but it surprised me.

My husband has not sparred with anyone for a while. He is working on getting back to a “fighting weight” so he will be able to enjoy sparring again. When he does, I will enjoy supporting him and cheering him on from the sidelines. I know he does not hate, with a capital H, anything as he is the most accepting person that I have met. I also know that he is competitive and will enjoy getting a submission when he is able to fight again. He is what MMA is about: athleticism, skill, strategy and entertainment.

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