Sunday, August 16, 2009

I just don't get it

I've tried, repeatedly, but I don't understand the fascination. UFC / Strikeforce / MMA / Affliction / Ultimate Fighting / Whatever just doesn't make it for me. Last night's card was advertised as an epoch-maker, because lots of supposedly spectacular match-ups would be televised, and the headliner was a battle of the best two female MMA / UFC / Whatever fighters. Well, I toughed out the entire card, again, and was disappointed and revolted, again. It isn't a problem of the sport being too barbaric -- even though I understand that all such fighting sports are barbaric -- because I love boxing. It isn't a problem of the sport being too seedy, because it's come a long way from those disturbing clips of that homeless dude fighting weirdos for cash or food; in fact, last night's event was as glitzy and well-produced as any stellar boxing card in recent memory. I can't even say, in good conscience, that it's a problem of a lack of skill, because I'm not well-versed on the finer points of take-down techniques, submission holds, or shoot (chute?) fighting.

For me, the biggest problem is that no matter what happens, MMA either fails to hold my interest or actually disgusts me. Last night was no exception. The four things that I remember the most from the two-hour program are not exactly selling points for the sport:
  • Prolonged stretches where the fighters just circled one another, followed by a quick takedown by one of the fighters, and said takedown resulting in prolonged stretches where the fighters grappled awkwardly on the floor, until the referee eventually reset them because the crowd would boo the lack of action.
  • Fighters taking entirely too much punishment. I don't think I'm being a hypocrite here. Boxing gloves are very well-padded, and I've actually experienced what it's like to get punched in the jaw by a gloved opponent. Sure, it doesn't feel too good, but to be honest, I've taken worse lumps playing soccer. I've also experienced what it's like to get pounded with a practically bare fist or get kicked in the thigh, and it's brutal. One complaint about MMA you'll never hear from me is that fights get stopped too quickly. In my opinion, the exact opposite holds true. Last night, some Armenian dude dropped his opponent with a crunching right hook, and there was no pause, mercy, or eight-count. Instead, the Armenian fighter immediately pounced on his helpless and halfway unconscious rival and landed at least five or six vicious blows on his face before the referee finally stepped in to wave off the contest. The bloodied and bruised loser was left to stare up at the lights with a thousand-yard glassy-eyed stare. It was scary and repugnant.
  • Testing is sorely needed in the sport, and I don't mean the "what multiple learning profile is Fighter X" type of testing. Yesterday's main event pitted Gina Carano, the supposed face of female MMA fighters, against an opponent who goes by the name of "Cyborg" -- I shit you not. Carano is a pretty good-looking girl, so I can see why the promoters would want to showcase her. As a bonus, her name allowed me and a group of equally immature friends to make roughly one million "pounding Gina" moron jokes. This Cyborg person, though... yikes. To quote the Steve Carrell character from "The 40-Year Old Virgin": her hands were as big as Andre The Giant's, and her Adam's apple was almost as big as her balls. She was more of a man than I'll ever be. Predictably enough, the good-looking but not very well-skilled Gina took a hellacious beating from Cyborg. I suppose we should be thankful there wasn't enough time for lots of grappling, or else Cyborg might not have known whether to throw punches or penetrate and thrust. [Shudders.]
  • There really don't appear to be too many rules. During the girl fight, while Cyborg had Gina pinned against the cage (yes, they fight in a cage -- draw your own conclusions), she was actually scratching Gina's face. I suppose that's pretty convincing evidence that Cyborg's a female after all, but still... that was just insane.

All in all, I was not impressed. Call me a stodgy old fogey, but I think I'll stick to boxing, where people try to punch each other's heads off in a civilized manner.

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