Ray McNulty – Sports Columnist Ft. Lauderdale
Ray McNulty: Ultimate fighting? No, just madness By Ray McNulty sports columnist October 11, 2005

The clock was moving past 10 o’clock Friday night as I left the office and headed for my neighborhood sports pub, where a juicy burger, a cold beer and the last few innings of the Yankees-Angels playoff game awaited my arrival.

Or so I thought.

Advertisement Oh, the burger was juicy. And the beer was cold. And the baseball game was showing on a few TV screens.

But only a few … and you couldn’t hear what was going on.

The reason? Most of the screens and all of the volume were tuned in to something called the “Ultimate Fighting Championship.”

Apparently, people actually pay to watch this stuff � because it was a pay-per-view telecast. The owners of the pub, in fact, had posted placards advertising their plans to show the event, obviously hoping to attract customers who usually don’t go to sports bars.

Because UFC has nothing to do with sports.

I’m not sure what it is, exactly.

Human cockfighting? Professional street fighting? The Jerry Springer Show on steroids?

Between pitches of the baseball game, between bites of my burger and sips of my beer, I glanced over at the UFC “bouts,” just to see what it was all about. And what I saw was as tough to swallow as that burger.

In one fight, some guy named Branden Lee Hinkle wrestled some guy named Sean Gannon to the canvas and repeatedly pummeled him with his elbow until Gannon’s face resembled a pizza. It wasn’t until seconds remained in the round that the coroner � I mean, the referee � stepped in and stopped the contest.

In another fight, somebody named Alessio Sakara was beating the bejeezus out of somebody named Ron Faircloth, but only until Faircloth decided he had absorbed enough punishment and retaliated with a vicious kick to Sakara’s groin. The bout was declared “no contest” because Sakara was unable to continue and Faircloth’s kick was “accidental.”

Yeah, right … and Mike Tyson accidentally bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Then there was the UFC’s heavyweight championship fight, which lasted all of 15 seconds. That’s how long it took a big, strong Russian named Andrei Arlovski to knock out a big, fat American named Paul Buentello with one thunderous punch to the jaw.

As Buentello went down, a testosterone-laden cheer filled the pub. So I guess the sales pitch worked. People were watching. People were buzzing between fights about the blood and carnage on the screen. Some people even knew who these Neanderthals were. And that should scare you.

At the very least, it tells you plenty about where we are as a society � because there’s no real sport in this. Clearly, the objective is not only to win, but to maim your opponent.

Sure, the UFC has rules. Head-butting is a foul. So is biting, eye gouging, hair pulling, spitting, pinching and “small joint manipulation.” You cannot legally attack an opponent’s groin, throw him out of the ring, jam your finger into any of his orifices, spike him head-first into the canvas or kick him in the head when he’s down.

Pretty much everything else, however, is OK.

Except this: You’re not allowed to quit; only the referee can stop a fight.

But maybe somebody with some real clout ought to step in and stop this madness.

Until then, I suppose, it’s up to us.

So if my neighborhood sports bar decides to crawl back into the gutter and shows this pseudo-macho freak show again, I’m going to find some place else to get my late-night burger, beer and ball game.

Some place that shows sports.

Not human cockfights.

– ray.mcnulty@scripps.com

(Ray McNulty can be heard at 7:30 and 8:30 Friday mornings on Oldies 103.7 FM WQOL.)