I’ve given the UFC several chances over the years. Some things have piqued my interest, like Holly Holm’s beating of Ronda Rousey and prime Anderson Silva’s run. I also have a great admiration for jiu jitsu and all of its forms, especially the early UFC dominance of Royce Gracie. I’ve often said that when it comes to combat, the only two disciplines that matter are boxing and jiu jitsu and that the rest are just child’s play.
But as for the UFC product as a whole?
The UFC is pure boardroom-engineered macho fairytale shit show appealing to the lowest common denominator of fight fan.
Aesthetically, there are about a million things that don’t sit right with me-- from the timing structure of the fights that robs the sport of the late fight high-drama boxing at its best can produce to the idea of a combat sport that allows one fighter to bash another when he’s down and out to the entire atmosphere of a typical UFC show, which seems more like a “buy now” infomercial than a sporting event. It also doesn’t help that the UFC has been so aggressively negative towards boxing in its rise while, at the same time, riding heavily on its coattails for cheap publicity whenever possible. Aside from all of that, I do believe that there’s a whole racist undertone to the sport and its marketing decisions that most would prefer not to address, but that’s a topic for another time.
What probably turns me off the most, however, is the culture the UFC has created, both among fans and within its own roster of fighters. The recent publicity tour for Saturday’s Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz bout has served as a reminder why I tend to steer clear of the UFC carnival.
It goes back to the boxing gyms where I grew up and learned many of my life lessons. Most of those who came through the doors were decent people eager to learn the art of boxing. But there were always others—angry, frustrated, coarse, loutish—who liked bullying their way through life and wanted to become more proficient at it. They strutted around with their chest puffed out, talking tough, and looking for fights. Whereas many of the boxers learning the craft of the sport eventually found a gentlemanly quality through the discipline required to learn the art form, these other guys only became more uncouth, more aggressive as they lurked in the gym. These are the meat-heads who intimidated me as a child and against whom I’ve been fighting to squash since I was old enough to fight back.
This is the mentality encouraged and promoted by the UFC—a product totally eschewing all the inherent nobility in the discipline of combat in order to play up to the “punch him in the motherfuckin’ face, make him bleed” base instinct of a base society. It plays to the worst instincts of combat sports fans.
I’m aware of the fact that Mixed Martial Arts is a legitimate discipline and art form, but we all know that the UFC is not about that.
The UFC is a jerry-rigged take on a larger sport, pandering to a bloodthirsty subset of an ADD world. It pushes its fighters into its bogus, manipulative atmosphere and encourages poorer than poor sportsmanship—then it robs them blind by shamelessly underpaying them.
The UFC has dumbed down the world of combat sports and its effects can be felt everywhere from tactical boxing matches that are drowned in boos to the angry jibes of drunken fans jeering solid grappling at an MMA bout.
Stripped of its sense of nobility and craft, combat sports are just fodder for angry, frustrated bullies and, unfortunately, the UFC has made a killing from cultivating and encouraging the worst of the worst in fandom.
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