Mixed martial arts and ultimate fighting have become wildly popular sports in the United States. What does this say about our civility?
The aim of the game is to fight until someone goes down, using any and every accessible method. This hardly seems like a sophisticated or respectable hobby.
This is not to say that MMA fighters are mindless brutes, or that the sport has no intelligent organization. There is a lot of strategy and training involved, and it certainly isn't for the weak-minded.
But the sport, with hardly any regulation, is incredibly dangerous. Fighters can execute almost any kind of blow or hold, and protective headgear is only optional. There is constant danger of permanent or fatal injury, as was proven by the death of MMA fighter Michael Kirkham after injuries suffered at Aiken's professional fighting event June 26. Kirkham lost consciousness after numerous blows to the head, something not uncommon during a fight.
His death was an accident, and his opponent was merely competing in the sport, doing his best to win. Nobody was trying to cause permanent damage. But when two fighters with basically no rules and no protection are locked in fierce combat, what are the chances of someone not getting seriously hurt?
And yet, this sport is popular, and frighteningly so.
It's not really a stretch to say that mixed martial arts and ultimate fighting are basically human cockfights. True, there's a huge difference in that people fight willingly and the chickens don't. But both exist for the same reason -- we find entertainment in brutality. The fact is, when watching people beat, kick and brutally wail into each other doesn't at least make you cringe, there's something wrong.
How far from savagery have we advanced when this kind of violence is fun and games?