There are many adjectives in the lexicon that can accurately describe MMA fighters—"warrior" isn't one of them.
The word is used far too liberally by fans and pundits alike; it's time to put it to rest for good.
Fighters are brave individuals. They risk their health and their lives in order to entertain the masses. That's commendable but it doesn't make them "warriors."
Warriors engage in war.
MMA, while dangerous, isn't a war. A particularly grueling fight may be called a "war" but that comparison is only figurative. War is what happens between governments and armies, not what happens between two athletes in a cage.
Despite this truth, the W-word finds its way to many post-fight discussions. Phrases like "That guy is a [expletive] warrior, bro" or "Did you see the punishment he took? What a warrior," are commonplace after brutal affairs.
True, Forrest Griffin's and Stephan Bonnar's efforts in their first bout (a fight that's considered by many to be the peak of "warriordom" in MMA) were laudable and impressive enough to put the common man (including myself) to shame.
But throwing and receiving punches and kicks does not make a warrior.
Frankie Edgar is not a warrior for surviving Gray Maynard's assaults and then knocking him out in their third fight.
Fabio Maldonado is not a warrior for withstanding an unbelievable beating from Glover Teixeira before the doctor stopped the fight after the second round.
That's another problem with the word "warrior" in MMA. Fans typically use it to describe fighters who excel at absorbing damage rather than dishing it out.
You never hear "Man, Anderson Silva is such a warrior for destroying Vitor Belfort with a front kick to the face!" Instead, the MMA world gets diatribes about how living punching bags are the bravest "warriors" the human race has ever known.
MMA, no matter how much you want to emphasize the violence, is ultimately naught but a sporting contest. It's participants are athletes who are trying to kick ass and make money, not warriors who are risking their lives daily on the front lines of any of the world's numerous conflicts.
MMA is a young sport and there's still time to influence its terminology. Let's start now, and let's start with removing "warrior" from the sport's lexicon once and for all.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!