Friday, May 25, 2007

The Media Misrepresentation of UFC

I just got finished watching a discussion on ESPN about UFC, where Joe Rogan, a UFC commmentator, debated the pros and cons of MMA vs boxing with Lou Dubella, a boxing representative, and as usual, the UFC was completely misrepresented by its critics. Why is it that critics of the UFC can't manage basic intellectual fairness in their criticisms? They talk about it like it has no rules (which was never true even in the early days), call it "human cockfighting", or "pitbull fighting", and say idiotic things like "boxing is a science because defense is as important as offense", as Dubella did.

Statements like that only betray ignorance, or conscious misrepresentation, take your pick. He even brought professional wrestling into the discussion as if it were comparable to UFC. And in a lame attempt at ad hominem, he told Rogan that Rogan wasn't a boxing fan, even though Rogan used boxers as examples of great fighters and demonstrated knowledge of the sport. Perhaps these figures provide the motivation for misrepresenting UFC and making personal attacks against its proponents:

2006 Pay per view revenues

UFC - $223 million
Boxing on HBO - $177 million

Yes, that's right, UFC is kicking boxing's ass in the marketplace. And I agree with Joe Rogan that it is only going to get better. He made a very good point that boxing is a sport of only one aspect of fighting, whereas UFC covers so much more of what is involved in a real fight. Unfortunately Rogan got stuck on this point and kept repeating it, when that time would have been spent better talking about how boxing is actually more dangerous than MMA, because they get hit repeatedly in the head. Yes, they are wearing bigger gloves that lesson the blows, but there are so many more it overwhelms with what happens in MMA, where a guy gets hit 2-3 times clean and he's out. You can see the result of this in the interviews, where MMA fighters are consistently more coherent and intelligent than boxers. Former champions include math teachers (Rich Franklin), accounting degrees (Chuck Liddell), and others.

Yes, MMA can be very violent. It is definitely not for the squeamish. But on average it is less violent than football or boxing. The bloody unconscious knockouts are the exception, not the rule. One stat MMA critics never talk about is that about 60% of the matches end in submission, meaning one fighter surrenders by tapping a hand or foot on his opponent or the floor ("tapping out"). And I think one reason they don't want to talk about that is the incredible skill that goes into being a good submission artist. For we former wrestlers, its far more interesting than boxing, and apparently, the rest of America is starting to think so as well. So if you haven't seen an MMA event yet, and are curious, don't listen to the critics. What they describe barely relates to what I see at the events. Watch one, make an effort to pay attention to the skill on the ground, and judge for yourself. Personally, as Rogan once said "I don't see how anyone can watch baseball after seeing this".

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