MMA Guy: Welcome to Our Blood Sport

eCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2009

Ultimate Fighting was the beginning, now this damn fight club's moving away from its  underground underpinnings, and it's called mixed martial arts.

Mixed Martial Arts— a sport that combines grappling and striking techniques—is gaining big-time mainstream popularity across America and around the world.

Ultimate Fighting relates to an MMA organization known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Mixed Martial Arts refers to a fighting style that incorporates wrestling, Muay Thai boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and other fighting techniques used in professionally sanctioned fights.

An "ultimate fighter" is an award given to the winner of a UFC-based reality T.V. show on Spike TV, known ironically—or not—as The Ultimate Fighter.

We know the newspaper medium is outdated and dying, but the New York Times is supposed to be to the best of the best. All the news that's fit to print.

This is not the first, and it won't be the last time, NY Times' columnists have spoken unintelligibly about the sport of mixed martial arts—all the sport that's safe to sell.  

NY Times columnist, Virginia Heffernan's recent piece spoke about her husband's new interest in what she calls "ultimate fighting," and her shame to tell all her desperate housewife friends about her husband's new obsession with such a bloody-bloody sport. 

To her credit, she enjoys the sweet science of boxing, which she believes is what matters most when judging man's highest achievement in hand-to-hand combat sports. But boxing too has been around as long as newspapers.

Maybe as a sports writer, she grew up as a fan watching the sport, and now can't accept  mixed martial arts replacing her beloved boxing as a generation's new fight.

As newspaper must compete with the Internet, boxing must compete with mixed martial arts. Both must evolve to survive.

Still her misconception that all mixed martial arts happens in the "Ultimate Fighting" Championship further perpetuates the ill-convinced notion that "ultimate fighting" (actually MMA) is more dangerous than boxing ever dreamt.

Is this why mixed martial arts, not boxing, remains banned in states across America?

In boxing, repeatedly hitting someone when they're down and rendering them helpless on his back, is not allowed. When a fighter outlasts a standing 10-count and recovers, his opponent rewards him with even more repetitive blows to their respective domes.

Whereas, such rules literally define the bloody sport of boxing, not even all mixed martial arts fights involve fighters merely throwing punches—there's ground-and-pound assaults, submission attempts, and leg kicks.

In mixed martial arts, most refs recognizes when a fight needs stopping immediately. Other times, accomplished refs like Yves Lavigne at UFC 95 in February, no-calls resume fights and allow a fighter, Mike Brown, to beat and bloody the defenseless, Pete Sell

Is that why?

Mixed martial arts is as legit a sport as American football. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is an organization, much like the National Basketball Association.

When you order an MMA pay-per-view, you may—or may not—be ordering a UFC PPV, but the chances are increased. The UFC may be the most known brand, but Strikeforce, Affliction, M1-Global, and even Zuffa-owed WEC are ALL mixed martial organizations.

We know all the letters and numbers confuse some people so we won't fault her for those shortcomings. We know it's hard to know the difference among all them so we don't blame people for viewing MMA from the perspective of Heffernan.

The sport's evolution has come a long way in a short time, and still has not reached the level of popularity as Major League Baseball or the National Football League.

Sooner or later, with the help of the UFC, mixed martial arts will increase in popularity to a mainstay in the American sports lexicon.

Heffernan distastefully reminds us her column that her middle-aged housewife friends refer to mixed martial arts as "the thing where they actually kill each other."

Please, let us meet the person who this quote should be attributed too, we've love to interview them on the record, of course.

Seriously, that has to be the most idiotic and asinine statement we've ever read.

She further insults her readers intelligence by constantly reminding them of this most obvious of facts.

Yes, Virgie, we know the fighters from your hubby's new "ultimate fighting" viewing hobby, do not actually kill each other.

Please do not push your passion for the christ-like sacrifice you feel these fighters do not portray, and your readers do not appreciate.

As if those reading the New York Times aren't educated enough to realize a sport, as popular as MMA, in an organization, as popular as the UFC, allows fighters to sacrifice more then the health of their bodies, is fruitless.

They may beating-the-living crap out of their opponents each time they step inside a fighting ring, but who doesn't? Winning isn't everything, and the money isn't great.

Professional fighters' true sacrifice is the time they miss spending with their family and friends because they're off training trying to provide for their family's future.

As if anyone anywhere reading anything about anything would ever believe that we, as human-beings, would allow such a sport where one person goes to war against another person with the winner decided by bloodshed and death, to continue being broadcast on late-night public access stations, weekly prime-time cable television shows, and bimonthly UFC pay-per-views is the most ridiculous assumption for a journalist of Virginia Heffernan's ilk to make of her highly educated readership.

Mixed martial arts is not a blood sport.

And to suggest "ultimate fighting" fans, and those who train mixed martial arts are as dumb as she assumes her readers, we not surprised the story only has seven comments or the paper's profit margins dwindle.

Save the bullshit for a book.

She sure as hell isn't talking to MMA's prime demographic of males ages 18-45, who may—or may not— read the New York Times.

Regardless, they sure as hell do not need to read the NY Times to know mixed martial arts fighters do not actually die inside the ring.

No one does.

No one reads the New York Times for those common-sense columns anyways.

Actually, we're unaware of any fighters dying while competing inside the ring. We know some fighters injure themselves during fights and training. We're sure it's possible for fighters to die during training, but again we've never heard of anyone. Maybe someone can correct us in the comments.

Heffernan further talks about the "steroidal lexicon" of mixed martial arts, which sounds like it would be more apropos for an expose on the pro baseball steroids era. And how the name "UFC" stems from the "corny pageantry of professional wrestling," whatever the hell that means. She's seems to have coined the term "ultimate fighter." Wonder where she thinks that name came from or does she believe we what believe?

Terms like tapping out, rear-naked chokes, and full-guard must be "steroidal lexicon" she references, and not the recent suspensions of Ken Shamrock and Baby Fedor. And the sport entertainment-ness of UFC fighters becoming larger-than-life athletes and recognizable wherever and whenever they walk down the street, must be what she means by "corney pageantry of professional wrestling."

In that case, she's even more uninformed than we realized about understanding the mixed martial arts culture and the business of the UFC.

Until people with knowledge of the sport become the ones scheduling and watching the fights; and those with no knowledge stop publishing misinformation about mixed martial arts, MMA will never recognized by media outlets, like the NY Times, as a sports heavyweight; thus the muckrakers submit the casual sports fan to complacency. 

It's the same story Cro-Cop told us, and it's the only one potential fans like Heffernan know. An all-bais no-knowledge bullshit approach to sports writing, and they sure as hell are not helping elevate the sports acceptance.

Through the deceptive media, the perception that mixed martial arts is an arcane relic still exists.

Like Heffermann's Blood Sport column, it's the only viewpoint she and others like her know how to defend. They refuse to accept mixed martial arts as a sport that sounds non-violent and safe because then others more ill-informed on the sport, soon realize mixed martial arts is not at all the dangerous and death-defying "ultimate fighting" their housewife friends told them.

Mixed martial arts, like pee-wee wrestling, Taekwondo, and Yoga, is a healthy way to express oneself through exercise. Of course, she doesn't present her mixed martial arts story in this manner because her story loses its edgy-ness and falls to back pages of the sports section.

Okay, well... we hope Heffernan enjoys her free UFC 95 fight tickets, but we're pretty sure she's never actually seen an MMA fight live in-person or ordered a pay-per-view in her life.

She also tells us how the Octagon is nothing more than a cage housing human cock-fighters, but even John McCain doesn't buy that chicken-coop crap anymore.

Cancel our cheap NY Times' Weekender Magazine subscription. We're not buying Heffernans' argument anymore.

You can read her entire piece here.


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