By Brad Spencer
If you’ve been watching the Bulls, you’ve been watching quite a bit of Comcast SportsNet, which means you’ve seen the redundant promos for UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) bouts, where two hulky males hop into an octagonal ring, shirtless, shoeless — and obviously clueless — and try to beat the idiocy out of one another. It’s a clip that lasts about 30 seconds, but the violence is palpable. Heads and faces get pummeled to a bloody pulp.
Oh, you’ve missed these scenes of unabashed brutality? Well, my 4-year-old daughter Kate, an ardent watcher of the Bulls with her dear ol’ Dad, has seen them. “What were those boys doing, Daddy?” Ugh, rough-housing …
So maybe you’re not watching the Bulls yet; it doesn’t matter. The UFC promos popped up frequently during the NFL playoffs on Fox, the network that will telecast an upcoming fight at the United Center. These promos were far less violent, but ridiculous just the same. It seems UFC tried desperately to instill a humanistic quality to their barbarian-style fighters. Jon “Bones” Jones, the current UFC light heavyweight champion, is pushing his daughter on a swing-set in a park, albeit by employing a playful martial arts kick to her backside. Jones, who was disqualified during a fight in 2009 after using illegal downward elbow strikes that led to breaking his opponent’s nose and dislocating his shoulder, pushes — or kicks — too hard and she goes flinging into the air. Jones catches her, but it is a stupid ad for a senseless sport — and I’m hesitant to even refer to it as a sport.
I get the affinity that folks have for martial arts, wrestling and boxing, but UFC, even with stricter rules put in place in recent years, is not where these skills should be showcased. Ultimate fighting is, plain and simple, ultimately pointless. If you want to continue in martial arts as you get older, there are tournaments out there. You starred on your college’s wrestling team? Make a run at the Olympics. You want to break bones, strangle people into submission, smash faces into pancakes? Join the Armed Forces. Heck, you might get the chance to kill someone.
So UFC and Fox have joined forces to try and bring the blood and brutality into our living rooms. How thoughtful of them. All I want to do is watch the Bulls or a football game without seeing some guy pounding some other guy’s skull with — pretty close to anyway — his bare knuckles. Don’t tell me it’s no different from the frequently run and just as violent movie, television or video game ads. The contrast is easy to pin-point: One is fictional and for entertainment purposes only; the other is as bad as a car wreck.
But we live in a world where the spectrum of individual taste is vast and varied. So right before Disney on Ice’s Dare to Dream hits town in the same venue, just east of here on Madison, two dudes will step into an octagonal ring and try to hammer one another into unconsciousness in front of a large crowd at the United Center.
I’ll be watching the Bulls.