Ahhh. There’s nothing quite like the sights and sounds of the time-honoured, noble, blood-soaked sport of people beating up on each other.
If you’ve been out of the loop by being in a coma, or living on a distant planet for the past several years, you may not be familiar with the rapid rise in popularity of the phenomenon known as MMA — which sounds like a college business degree but actually stands for Mixed Martial Arts, aka People Beating Up On Each Other.
This has resulted in TV reality shows, mega “sporting” events, and sold-out stadium spectacles called UFC, which sounds like a radio frequency but actually means Ultimate Fighting Championship aka People Pounding the Living Daylights Out of Each Other.
Ultimate fighting is staged in an eight-sided ring called (go figure) an octagon with the combat area surrounded by a thick, high metal chain-link fence designed to protect the screaming fans from flying body parts.
It is also called “the cage” which, based on what goes on in there, is extremely appropriate.
What goes on in there is two people wailing on each other with manic viciousness until one or the other is rendered no longer conscious, although it’s sometimes difficult to tell which one is which, based on the post-fight interviews.
The ultimate fighters are equipped only with thin fingerless gloves, many obligatory tattoos, some sort of gym shorts with advertising printed on them for various chemical training supplements (none of which actually mention the word “steroids” out loud), and a seemingly infinite capacity to take repeated brutal kicks, punches, elbows and knees directly to the head.
Pounding away at each other from a standing position is known, technically, as “striking,” with the goal to create as much blood on the opponent’s face as possible, before one or the other (or both) gives up by becoming comatose and falling to the canvas like a wet noodle.
The second technique in mixed martial arts is known as “grappling.”
This is where two sweaty guys dressed only in shorts and many obligatory tattoos roll around on top of each other on the floor of the octagon (eewwww!) forming various painful pretzel-like contortions designed to fracture an opponent’s limb, dislocate a joint or remove a random body part, until one or the other (or both) gives in by making a quick tapping motion with their hand just before they pass out.
This is called a “tap out” and it is exactly the same as saying uncle back when a bully beat you up on the playground.
Except in the UFC there is a referee who leaps in and stops the fight after a tap out so that the fight doctor can rush in and pronounce the loser more or less alive, and the winner can jump up and roar in triumph while bleeding profusely from various head wounds.
Make no mistake, however, these are tough competitors — especially the conscious ones. They have a grueling training regime that includes being engraved with more obligatory tattoos, and constantly ingesting copious amounts of those unpleasant training “supplements”, “vitamins” and other chemicals that might not even contain steroids.
Also, the fighters undergo large amounts of blood loss on a regular basis, and get many their teeth knocked out.
Their noses are in a constant state of broken.
And their ears have been subjected to so much striking and grappling that they (the ears) look exactly like cauliflowers.
Sometimes though, I must admit, I wonder what it would be like to be that tough. I mean, just once it might be nice to know that you could defend yourself from any hazardous situation or nasty guy if you really had to.
Except the ones with cauliflower ears, broken noses and missing teeth.
You might want to stay away from those guys.
Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.