At a recent press event, Sen. McCain joined other government leaders as well as boxers and MMA fighters to promote awareness of a new brain trauma study. AXS TV's Ron Kruck caught up with Sen. McCain and asked him about a host of topics.
Our favorite question was Kruck's last one to McCain.
"You boxed at the Naval Academy. Now, if mixed martial arts was around back then, do you think you would have given it a shot?" Kruck asked.
"Absolutely," Sen. McCain replied with a smile. "Absolutely."
What a change. There was a time when the focus of Senator John McCain's legislative career seemed to be getting the sport of mixed martial arts banned.
Back in the 90's, Sen. McCain, an amateur boxer during his Navy days, went to war with MMA, ultimately getting it temporarily banned from cable television.
That's right - hard core pornography was once available at the click of your remote while athletes fighting in a sport with less incidents of death and serious injury than boxing, football and many others was deemed "human cockfighting," by Sen. McCain, admitted at one point during his crusade to never having watched a full MMA fight before.
Efforts by the Sen. to ban other colloquial oxymorons like "jumbo shrimp" and "good grief" were less successful. Of course, the leading MMA promotion in the states, the UFC, was eventually purchased by Zuffa, whose owners used their regulatory influence and smarts to get the sport regulated all across the country and world, in addition to bringing it back to not just pay per view but also to basic cable and network television.
As for Sen. McCain, well, it's funny how his opposition to MMA melted away around the time beer giant Anheuser-Busch began sponsoring UFC events. Sen. McCain's father in law, Jim Hensley, founded a beer distribution company, Hensley, over fifty years ago which today is the nation's third largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch beer.
These days, everything's gravy between Sen. McCain and the sport he once tried to kill off for no informed reason. UFC president Dana White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta even push a narrative during interviews now that Sen. McCain saved the sport of MMA with his criticism.
Of course, Sen. McCain did more than criticize MMA, he tried to ban it in a supposedly free society even though he admitted to not knowing much about it. The truth is, Sen. McCain failed and as a result, MMA now thrives alongside boxing, football, stock car racing and other beloved, though dangerous sports.
We're glad Sen. McCain and many others have come along in their acceptance of MMA, even if it appears to only be a matter of convenience for him. It's even pretty cool that he says he would have liked to have tried it out as a young man.
However, MMA fans have a long memory and the distinguished Sen. from Arizona still has a long way to go before his legislative beef with the sport and it's supporters is squashed. That said, we like a good fight matchup mental exercise as much as anyone so...
What political rival would you like to see Sen. McCain go up against in an MMA match? Former President George W. Bush? President Barack Obama? Former Governor Mitt Romney?
How about a former friends and bill-writing partners type grudge match (see Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans) between he and former Sen. Russ Feingold?
Let us know in the comments section.