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My droogies, what can I say? I’ve been a bad blogger of late. But hey, I don’t get paid for this, so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.
As you may recall, I’ve been dealing with a herniated disc for over a year now. It has impinged my ability to do pretty much everything. Every time I get close to getting cured, something unexpected pops up to re-inflame the mofo. Most recently, I’ve been dealing with what appears to be a new, slight herniation on the other side of my body. So now that the right side is mostly healed, the left side has been impairing my movement.
Well, after some weeks of intense work and rehab, I was finally in a more-or-less good place again, backwise. I even managed to go running yesterday! To celebrate, I joined a friend for coffee in an outdoor cafe in Ottawa. Well, of course, a fight breaks out on the sidewalk in front of the cafe. About 40 idiotic teenagers are involved. Their fight spills over into the cafe. Tables are overturned, mugs are broken and people flee. Some try, but don’t quite escape.
Count me in with the latter. I ended up getting my right knee bashed against the sharp edge of a brick wall while trying (unsuccessfully) to scale the wall as the horde pressed into my table. Bloodied and swollen, I once more hobble around town.
Conclusion: the gods really don’t want me to walk. Ever again.
The really frustrating part of this tale, though, is that the idiot teenagers couldn’t even fight well. The main combatants were doing the old girlie-man slapping. Hell, the only person who got hurt was me! If I’m going to pay with my knee, and if these idiots are going to resort to physical violence, then I at least want to be entertained with some skilled fighting! But nooooooo….
Which brings us to my topic for today: mixed martial arts, or MMA.
I’ve written about MMA many times. I’m a big fan, particularly of the type offered by the UFC, the company that pretty much invented MMA. I’ve argued many times that MMA is a civilized sport, that it exhaults in the purity of the human spirit and strives to make a man confront his true self. The battle is, in many ways, irrelevant to the character-building journey that minimal-rule fighting represents.
I have further argued that even though MMA can be bloody, and appears brutal to the untrained eye, it is actually safer that other combat sports, especially boxing. This is true for a lot of reasons, none of which I will go over today. Suffice it to say that boxing shortens or ends competitors’ lives; MMA does not. As an out of shape asthmatic 40-something man with a marshmallow physique, I would personally feel a lot safer stepping into the fabled octagon than I would competing in a boxing match or even a professional ice hockey match, given the latter’s penchant for anger-driven violence and access to sticks and blades.
And I have stated that given the intensity of high level training required to compete in MMA at the top levels, and given its innate philosophical characteristics, it actually attracts an intelligent, sensitive kind of competitor. Yes, there will always be thugs in the sport, like any other sport. But increasingly, at least in the UFC, the top competitors are genuine martial artists, in the true sense of that overused word.
UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva, UFC Welterweight champion George St-Pierre and UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida are all consummate, traditional martial artists who acquit themselves admirably and demonstrate elegance, charm, intelligence, respect and even gentleness in the octagon. They don’t talk trash, can explain with eloquence their personal (and somewhat spiritual) paths that took them to fight at the top levels, and magically seem to avoid bloodshed while pulling off otherworldly victories.
Then came the most recent UFC pay-per-view, UFC 100. UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar successfully defended his title against Frank Mir. Brock is a freakishly gargantuan man with minimal martial arts skills, but a solid background as a wrestler and even a former WWF champion. He wins his MMA matches mostly by lying on top of his opponents and battering them while they are immobile under his mountain of stinky flesh. Whatever: it works for him, and is therefore not a technique to be minimalized.
The problem, though, was in Brock’s comportment before and after the fight. Brock has stated that he does not respect any man he fights. After winning by TKO, Lesnar turned to the beaten Mir –in a moment when most fighters embrace and congratulate each other– and said, “That’s what you get for running your mouth.” Then he gave the audience both middle fingers, declared he would be drinking Coors Light beer that night, instead of Bud Light (Bud Light was a sponsor of the event) and that he was going to “get on top of his wife” that night.
Real classy, Brock. Real classy.
For those of us who’ve struggled to defend this nascent sport against accusations of thuggery, Brock’s behaviour was a real let down. He pretty much confirmed all the worst stereotypes the mainstream has of MMA, its competitors and even its fans.
On another note, there’s another great fighter named Diego Sanchez, who is also a follower of the self-affirmation teachings of Tony Robbins. As a result, he enters each fight chanting “Yes!” repeatedly and, quite frankly, weirding everyone out in the process. Here’s a GIF of such an entrance: