I’m a huge boxing fan. And an MMA fan. But perhaps not to the same extent as Boxing. and I’ll get to why in a second.
Combative Sports, seeing talented practitioners display their excellence is a draw, is compelling. That’s why organizations make money, networks make money, athletes make money, because it is a compelling attraction, that people will pay to see.
It appeals to us, to that part of us that lifts, when adversity meets will. There is something inspirational in it, in any athlete at their best.
Whether that is Jimmie Connors on the tennis court, or Sugar Ray Robinson in the boxing ring, those places where will meets adversity, and people come out on the other side as champions and victors… it is rousing.
However combative sports adds an additional layer of danger, in that unlike the goal of tennis or baseball or football or soccer or even rugby, where the goal is to get the ball past your opponent (and I understand these sports, all sports, can be incredibly dangerous, incredibly violent, can be potentially damaging); combative sports, inflicting damage is the goal.
In combative sports the goal is to damage the other person. Not to kill, or cripple, or maim, but enough to get them to submit or to lose. Winning in combative sports defined most clearly by being able to knock out or submit your opponent and have an early night. Now many fights go the distance with no one being knocked out or submitted, but those are potentially even more damaging as you have had people dig deep and go multiple rounds to the finish, trying to knock out or submit the other.
And nothing says highlight reel, like the knockout.
Do a search on youtube for best knockouts of 2019, and you will see that place where will meets adversity, and one person walks thru that door, and one person falls at it.
It is a rousing place for the athlete, and the audience. Look at the crowd or yourself during a great knockout.It impresses, and it rouses.
So I being human, am as guilty of being roused by those drums of wills colliding. So I like combative sports and knockout highlight reels as much as the next person.
But especially with the rise of MMA, and pound and ground, my ‘like’ is becoming more tinged with concern. Because for all the compelling nature of combative sports, we want these people not to be seriously injured or killed for anybody’s entertainment or money.
And I think Boxing has grown a lot in its history to reduce it from its bare knuckle bloodbath war of attrition origins, to the place where you have gloves of a certain weight, and mouth guards, and rules, and a ref there to enforce the rules, and doctors, and corner people, and yes blood baths do still occur in boxing, but boxing has improved greatly to reduce the risk of people getting maimed and killed for a paycheck.
I think MMA, because it is geared to offer us ‘real’ combat, widens the potential zones of attack, and therefore zones of damage. And a lot rides on the ref. Because if boxing’s goal is to knock an opponent down, most boxers know to pull away at that point where the person is down, and the ref gets to give a standing eight count etc; MMA has a more ill-defined goal.
In MMA when the person is down, that is when for the fighter.. the fight begins, and any MMA fight, the fighter on top is pounding away on the person with maiming and potentially killing hammer blows, not because they want to maim, or kill, but because that is the ‘sport’,… you hit until the ref stops or opponent submits. Now a concussed opponent will not be able to submit, so it falls on the ref to quickly keep people from getting destroyed or killed.
It is a potentially disturbing sport, that runs the risk of transcending what we admire about combative sports, to being what we despise about blood sports.
It is a slippery slope, and I think like Boxing will have to adopt better safe guards, as fighters get better, stronger, faster, and arguably more deadly to each other.
Couple things I don’t like about the UFC in particular, is putting people in a cage like pit-bulls to fight, I don’t like people in cages for any reason. Also, I don’t like the corner people removed from their fighter, it delays the response to throw in the towel if needed, or provide medical attention, etc.
I don’t know any easy answers, but I think we have to start looking for them sooner rather than later.
That’s one reason that made me lookup the ‘effects of knockouts’ on Youtube, and that brought me to the below video.