Two days prior to the historic UFC 193 pay-per-view event in Melbourne, Australia, that features women in the main event and co-headliner for the first time, a scathing article appeared on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald calling mixed martial arts human cockfighting.
“By trying to make UFC/MMA seem like everyday activity, by dressing it up as sport and pretending other sports expose participants to similar horrific violence, we are encouraging the young to see it as normal,” wrote Sam Varghese.
“Sport has its violent moments, but UFC/MMA is not sport. It is a sick form of entertainment for sadists,” he continued.
Verghese questioned whether the athletes are the role models that we want our youth to emulate and characterized the sport as an “ugly spectacle” that promotes violence.
“I’m one who has moved totally away from street violence, started from that, and used martial arts, mixed martial arts, as a way to get away from it. Martial artists know that when you do a lot of martial arts and training, you move away from that aggressive side of being an angry person,” he said during the UFC 193 media day on Wednesday.
Women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey puts her title on the line against former boxing world champion Holly Holm in the main event on Saturday. Fighting has been part of her life since early childhood and she believes fighting is human nature.
“Fighting is something human. It’s nothing wrong. It’s instinct inside of all of us. It’s not for old or young, or men or women. Every single one of us has an instinct to fight and I think to suppress that is unsafe,” she said while fielding questions from the media in Australia. “It’s not something you should be ashamed of, but something you should channel in the right way.”
MMA is controlled violence. It has rules and a referee appointed to enforce those rules inside the cage with paramedics at the ready. It’s not to be confused as a street fight between untrained combatants where literally anything can happen.
Although MMA is mainstream around the world, it still hasn’t shed some of its old stigmas.