At the beginning of each UFC pay-per-view, the UFC plays an opening video that likens the UFC to gladiators, like this one from UFC 124:
But how much do today's fighters have to do with the gladiators of ancient Rome? Quite a bit, it turns out. Like Maximus, they put their bodies through hell so that you'll be entertained, but they don't give much thought to the future. In a column from MMA Fighting, Strikeforce fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller recognizes the risks, but says it doesn't change anything.
"Athletes know this stuff. We do," said Miller. "We're not dumb. It's like that new research that links head injuries and Lou Gehrig's disease. Well, duh, science. Thanks for telling us what athletes already know. We know what we're doing to ourselves. It's the elephant in the room. We're giving our bodies for the entertainment of the masses. I'm okay with that. I've had plenty of surgeries. I know there's a chance that I could be retarded. I know that."
MMA is far from the only sport where athletes take these risks. Football players take on massive amounts of punishment, as do boxers and hockey players. But it's worth reading the entire article to hear how fighters we know and love have paid the price.