Opinion: The Crusade Against MMA Rages On
By Jesse Heitz
MMA has fought its fair share of battles, perhaps more than any other combat sport, to forge and safeguard its identity as a legitimate sport. It’s fought the good fight for twenty years. It has weathered the storm of ignorant politicians and quick-to-judgment as well as logically-impaired critics.
Over the last decade, MMA has made incredible strides. Major and minor promotions alike have held events across the globe. These promotions have fostered an athletic culture that has created unified rules, strenuous medical oversight, and streamlined operations for fighter safety.
Despite all of these things, the uninformed detractor still exists. Unfortunately for the general public, which may or may not be well-versed in MMA knowledge, many of these anti-MMA crusaders occupy prominent soapboxes which allow for the easy pollution of the information pool.
I’ve seen many of these folks spew their nonsense. While I’m generally disconcerted by their sloppy journalistic practices, I’ve recently come across arguably the most ridiculous condemnation of MMA I have ever seen. This piece comes via Matt Buchanan of the Sydney Morning Herald. His article, “Smash, Grapple and Choke: The Unstoppable Force of MMA”, goes to great lengths to portray MMA in the worst possible light. I’d encourage everyone to read these types of fallacious pieces if for no other reason than to vocally oppose them. In the meantime, I have posted an excerpt from this absurd article below.
“MMA has also enjoyed an as yet uninterrupted surge in popularity over the past 10 years – especially in its expression through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (a brand, not a discipline) which aggressively promotes its caged bouts with bloody advertisements, and rewards fighters with incentives for knockout strikes and maximal aggression. And, increasingly, MMA and UFC have coalesced in the public’s mind as a source of infamy and disgust.”
“On New Year’s Eve, Shaun McNeil, 25, boasted “I’m an MMA fighter”, according to NSW Police, before allegedly putting Daniel Christie into a life-threatening coma, this on the same Kings Cross corner where, 18 months before, Kieran Loveridge, another MMA devotee, “king-hit” several defenceless passers-by before landing an ambush blow on Thomas Kelly, killing him.”
“Only weeks ago NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione – addressing the so-called “king-hit” culture, and a lethal craze in the US called “Knockout”, where bystanders are struck unawares – said pictures of the discipline’s fighters reminded him of “crime scene photos of victims of assaults on footpaths waiting to be treated by paramedics …”
Perhaps the most outrageous claim made in this article was the rather condescending dismissal of a particular MMA practitioner’s rejection of the sport’s bond with thuggery. Buchanan stated simply, “What, then, about the king-hits, and other acts of violence on the public by MMA enthusiasts?”
So a few hoodlums, wannabe tough guys describe themselves as MMA fighters and engage in nothing more than sucker-punching unsuspecting people and that justifies the association of violent crime with an organized sport and its millions of peaceful practitioners? That seems like more of a mental health issue than an MMA issue.
This whole thing reeks of blind hate. It makes about as much sense as blaming Major League Baseball each and every time someone gets assaulted by a thug with a baseball bat, particularly if the assailant may have played some pee wee baseball at some point, or watched a baseball game on television, then the link must surely be undeniable. It turns out that blanket assumptions may make for an uptick in readership, but it’s far from an honest and commendable practice.