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MMA as ugly and brutal as it gets

Tue., Nov. 6, 2007

It is mixed martial arts, it is a cultural and social horror and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. For we have made our beds, ladies and gentlemen, and these days we’re so soiled in societal malaise, we’d be happy to find just a horse’s head at our feet.

Mixed martial arts – better known as MMA – is one part kickboxing, one part wrestling and two parts primeval savagery.

Should it be allowed? Yes.

Should people watch it? If they choose.

Should we be worried? Absolutely.

Mixed martial arts is a pretty name for an ugly game. It’s sanctioned brawling, a vicious, brutal succession of half guards, arm bars, up kicks, hammer fists and foot stomps. Almost anything goes – no head butting, no spitting, no groin attacks, no discussion of presidential politics – and, generally, almost anything will.

Naturally, there is betting on the outcome.

It’s another step toward the abyss.

(My friends, the line to the abyss is getting so deep, we’re going to have to divide everybody into boarding groups of three a la Southwest Airlines.)

An associate recently suggested I watch some MMA. This was a risky proposition – still being in the throes of a Tim McCarver detox – but I took in fight cards on Spike, ION and Fox Sports Net.

The crème de la crème are the Ultimate Fighting Championship shows on Spike. The UFC and Spike is an MMA marriage made in Leavenworth.

(Let’s say you’re in the joint: Given a few spare moments from the daily routine, why wouldn’t you eye-gouge or elbow someone? Heck, it gets pretty mundane working laundry detail every day. The lucky ones, I guess, get jobs in the prison library – like Brooks in “A Shawshank Redemption” – though you’ve got to figure it’s tough enforcing overdue-book fines with the 20-to-life crowd.)

You don’t need an advanced degree in sociology to understand the appeal of MMA:

Some folks like to see other folks kicking the crap out of each other. It’s that simple.

UFC pay-per-view cards have supplanted boxing cards as mega-moneymakers.

Why wouldn’t blood sport be a growth business?

By the way, if you’re on board with boxing, you can’t draw the line at MMA. They’re both sipping bottled water out of the same well – you essentially keep hitting your opponent until your opponent no longer can hit you back. MMA is just a bit more down-and-dirty than boxing, which is like saying wasabi is just a bit spicier than Tabasco.

Anyway, a friend of mine, the resplendent Bruce Buffer, is the in-ring voice of the Octagon on UFC telecasts. He first exposed me to the phenomenon several years ago when he showed me a short UFC clip at his condo. I was quite horrified but thought it would be impolite to leave his dinner party before dinner was served.

(Every time I hear Buffer bellow out his trademark, pre-fight “It’s time!!!” exclamation, I shout back at my TV screen, “For what?” To which, I’m sure, he would respond, “TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY, YOU MORON.”)

Let’s cut to the chase before I run out of space:

At the 3:45 mark of the first round of a Bodog fight on ION, Mark Burch of Portage, Ind., ended his heavyweight match against Japan’s Yoshiki Tagahashi with back-to-back right knees to the jaw. To the jaw! And here is Burch’s matter-of-fact, post-fight assessment: “It was a good stoppage by the ref. He wasn’t TOTALLY unconscious, but…”

To extend Burch’s thought, of course if Tagahashi had been TOTALLY unconscious, it would be a no-brainer, so to speak, to stop the match. Being that Tagahashi still had a pulse, Burch understands some spectators might question the referee’s decision to halt the proceedings before his opponent was, uh, dead or worse.

Yeah, and I’m supposed to feel guilty defending poker on television.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Are you as amazed as me how ESPN’s Ron Jaworski sees everything on every play of “Monday Night Football”? (Bob Bennett; Chicago)

A. Jaws breaks down film so well, if we showed him Army surveillance video from Afghanistan, you’ve got to figure he’d be able to track down bin Laden.

Q. How could Navy beat Notre Dame? (Greg Franco; West Allis, Wis.)

A. Charlie Weis no longer has the benefit of videotaping defensive signals.

Q. How are negotiations for “Couch Slouch ‘08” for Playstation 3 and Wii coming? (Brad Haskin; Seattle)

A. They’re balking at the “PBR clause” I’m insisting on.

Q. When was the last time you stepped out of bounds and illegally returned to the field of play? (Joe Banks; Charlottesville, Va.)

A. I guess that would’ve been the third night of my second honeymoon.

Q. According to NCAA rules, is a true freshman more statistically valuable than a deceitful sophomore? (Jerry L. Dupuy; Houston)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.


 

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