Maggie Hendricks

Boston Globe as ignorant about MMA as the New York Times

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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Well, it seems like New York and Boston just found something in common: ignorance by their newspapers.

Months after the New York Times published an editorial condemning mixed martial arts, the Boston Globe -- which is owned by the New York Times -- followed suit. The article calls MMA human dogfighting, a change in the moniker of human cockfighting that Sen. John McCain had given MMA more than ten years ago. You don't think the author, Peter Funt, was looking to capitalize on public sentiment created by Michael Vick's recent release from jail after serving time for dogfighting, do you? Nah. That ploy would be too cheap, like playing pranks on someone who didn't know they were being filmed. Oh wait.

Let's take a look through Mr. Funt's ignorance, shall we?

It’s been less than a decade since Senator John McCain called these fights “barbaric.’’ MMA is “not a sport’’ (sic) he argued in letters to all 50 governors, urging a total ban. What changed in so little time to move this brutal activity troublingly closer to the mainstream?

It's called the unified code of rules. If Mr. Funt would have taken the time to do a Yahoo! search for the rules, he would have found this, which would have eliminated his confounding ignorance. But that would have taken away from a good story.

Supporters say tighter rules - such as eliminating head butts and groin kicks, while adding a requirement that fighters wear small, fingerless gloves - were sufficient to quiet critics. Yet, at the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, a Los Angeles Times writer observed: “The blood is gushing out. . . just a beautiful sight for the UFC 100 crowd, the folks here in Mandalay Bay screaming with hunger for even more.’’ Another reporter noted that the eventual winner “used at least 17 unanswered blows’’ while his opponent was flat on the canvas.

Blood? At a sporting event? PERISH THE THOUGHT! I'm sure there is never blood spilled by the New England Patriots, the Boston Red Sox, or the Boston Bruins. Oh, wait again. Yet, no one is calling for the ban of football, baseball or hockey. Never mind the fact that MMA has had less deaths than football, boxing and equestrian; the sight of blood was apparently too much for Mr. Funt.

And now, to the most galling and ridiculous argument, MMA is human dogfighting.

Such thinking only goes so far. If dog fighting were to be sanctioned and televised, there would undoubtedly be a sizeable (sic) audience, consisting of the eager, the curious, and even the repulsed. Presumably that would lead to expensive ring-side seats, video games, and a beer sponsorship. But lawmakers, media, and business people would never condone it. Why they are willing to view “human dog-fighting’’ differently is something the culture of Dr. Phils ought to consider.

This argument is so preposterous that it is hardly worth refuting, but I'll do it anyway. Dogs are not sentient beings. Dogs don't choose to go into a dogfighting ring. Dogs don't train for two months with the best coaches available before entering a cage. Dogs don't get to decide to end the fight. Dogs don't often survive when they lose a fight. Dogs don't perform armbars, rear naked chokes, well-placed jabs or double-leg takedowns.

Dogs try to kill each other. Mixed martial artists don't. If Mr. Funt's eye is not discerning enough to see the difference, that's his business. Not everyone likes MMA, and that's OK. But condemning it without knowing the truth about this sport takes ignorance to a whole new level.

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