A couple of days ago in Australia, a Sports Editor of one of the biggest newspapers in the country savaged MMA earning the ire of Dana White and the UFC brass. For his article follow this link... http://www.couriermail.com.au/sport/boxing-mma/ultimate-fighting-championship-a-bloody-disgrace-writes-phil-rothfield/story-fnii0bqi-1226778234609
I felt I needed to reply and this is the best I could come up with...
After reading your denigrating view of MMA, I felt compelled to write this reply. You have insulted an entire community with your narrow minded, uneducated view.
The main issue I have with your view was the following sentence; "At least their sport involves a large degree of skill - and it's not just a contest to violently bash another person into submission". This clear lack of understanding of the sport, perfectly underlines why you should not have written this article.
The skill level required in MMA is higher than in almost any other sport. You have to be a high level competitor in not 1 discipline, but multiple to be majorly successful. Name me another sport that you have to master multiple different sports just to be competitive? The comparable analogy would be a NFL player that has the ability to play every position on the park.
Also you have used the worst example of barbaric savagery to illustrate your point. Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva was everything that is right about sport. The two men used all their skill to get the upper hand in their encounter. The competition was very even, going back and forth with regularity, it was incredibly close and they showed sportsmanship and professionalism throughout. They displayed heart, grit, determination and finding that extra gear that only true athletes have. They broke the physical barrier and were running only on their mental strength.
"The beauty of all sport is the toughness and determination of its competitors. The pain they put themselves through to become the best". The amount of hours MMA fighters put in at the gym to become the best compares to any other sportsman. They sacrifice as much, if not more than other athletes to become the best. With world class MMA gyms at a premium, a lot of athletes have to travel thousands of kilometres away from their families to train. How you can say this sentence and not apply it to MMA fighters, or just as importantly, how can you not back up your view? This underlines your lack of credibility in writing this piece in the first place.
MMA is regarded as a dangerous sport and nobody denies that. By the same token, the MMA community does not hide from this fact and does everything in its power to attempt to downgrade any potential damage caused. A great example of this is the difference between boxing and MMA when it comes to knockdowns. In boxing if a person suffers a concussion in a knock down, they have 8 seconds to recover, take a breather and continue. While in a lot of cases 8 seconds is not enough time to recover, some people are able to shake it off. The damage they incur from that point can be fatal (and on more than one occasion has been). In MMA, you do not have that time to recover, and if you are concussed the fight will be stopped almost immediately, due to the fact that your opponent can continue. While being hit another couple of times is not ideal, it is exponentially less dangerous then continuing fighting with a concussion.
You bring up the point that "Almost defenceless men (are) being held down on the ground and punched senseless". "Ground and Pound" is one of the more brutal aspects to the sport. But it is not easy to get to this position. You start the fight standing, so to get to the ground you either have to score a knockdown or a takedown (both of which require significant skill). From there you will generally land in your opponents guard and you can attempt ground and pound from this position. If you are good enough it can be successful in this position, however you are also susceptible to being submitted and as the opponent has both of their hands free they can defend and attack if they are skilled enough.
I assume with this comment you were referring to the fact that one combatant will get into "mount", pin the arms and then the opponent will be defenceless. In this situation, the practitioner will have to pass the aforementioned guard, slide into side control, and then be able to mount, all while making sure they do not get submitted, knocked out or reversed (sweeps are another important part of the ground game). Once they do get to that position and the person on the bottom has been given a short time to escape or fight back, the fight will be stopped. In the Hunt vs Bigfoot fight, it was almost stopped in the fourth round due to this, however Hunt was fighting back and Silva was not landing enough punches to put him in significant danger.
Basically I am saying that of course this sport is dangerous, but with the regulations in place, fighter safety is the number 1 priority. You should also note that the UFC has instituted one of the most comprehensive medical suspension systems in the world, to ensure fighters recover from their injuries in an appropriate time frame.
I would also like to respond to some of the questions you pose…
What does it say about our society?
MMA has a wide cross section of society that views it. Some people only watch to see brutal knock outs and submissions, others (like myself) watch for the competition. But how is this different to all sports? I know plenty of people that watch Rugby Leagues State of Origin series to see a brawl, whereas others watch it to barrack for their side. Many motor racing enthusiasts watch to see some horrific crashes. My point being is the cross section in MMA is the cross section you will see in almost any other sport.
Why do we allow our kids to watch and cheer for something we teach them not to do?
I was lucky enough to witness this event live. The children that I saw there were predominately children wearing shirts from their own MMA gym. The values these children are taught are discipline and respect and the values that the UFC enforce are actually quite strict. Paul Daley purposely punched an opponent after the bell while he was turned away. He was booted from the UFC and has been told he will never be allowed to return. Pittsburgh Penguins player, James Neal, did a comparable thing by kneeing a player who had fallen on the ice and was not looking. His punishment? A five match suspension! Which of those messages would you like to send to the community?
I will present the other side of the argument as well (a balanced argument should be every articles main priority, which I think you have forgotten), because MMA is certainly not perfect. If you had used the example of the Ryan Bader vs Anthony Perosh fight to argue your points, you would have had more validity. In that case it was a man getting beaten up for 15 minutes with no discernible way to win. It was apparent to everybody watching from early in the second round that Perosh was taking unnecessary punishment. His corner should have either thrown in the towel, or the judge should have stopped it, because he took a lot more damage that he should have.
The solutions to these issues are not clear and are certainly not simple. Whether corner men need to get more involved in protecting their fighter (like they do in boxing), or whether the referee should enforce some sort of mercy rule, something needs to change. What people like you need to remember though Phil, is that 21 years ago this sport did not exist. In those years it has evolved immensely from UFC 1 that had no rules to the product it is today. By no means is it the finished product, but the main ingredients are right.
More fights like Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva, which display true sportsmanship, demonstrate great skill and illustrate mental strength, will only strengthen the sport of MMA around the world. These fights should be applauded and not condemned as you believe.