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Bill O'Reilly on EliteXC: 'What Are We, the Roman Empire Now? I Guess We Are'

On his Fox News show,Bill O'Reilly hosted a discussion of Saturday night's EliteXC mixed martial arts show, and he suggested that professional mixed martial artists who suffered no serious injuries are somehow comparable to gladiators being forced to fight to the death:

"What are we, the Roman Empire now?" O'Reilly asked. "I guess we are, right?"

Guest Bernard Goldberg replied, "Well the Roman Empire did eventually fall, and that's what I want to lead up to." He later suggested that CBS executives would be happy if an MMA fighter died during a fight.

Said the other guest, Jane Hall, "You can get a rating with live executions. Why not do that?"

I like both Goldberg and Hall (I can't honestly say that I like O'Reilly), but they're just so ridiculously out of touch on this issue that it's hard to know where to start. I will address one specific quote from Hall, though.

Hall said during the discussion, "One of the reviewers I read said, 'This sport is basically boxing with more opportunity to inflict brain damage.'"

I don't know which "reviewer" Hall was referring to, but that is flat-out wrong and simply irresponsible. It has been very, very well established that the risk of brain injury is greater in boxing than it is in mixed martial arts. One quick knockout blow to the head, which we often see in MMA, is nowhere near as dangerous as a series of repeated blows to the head, which we often see in boxing.

That Hall would repeat such a claim without bothering to find out what the experts say does not speak well for her.

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