Here's one sport I'm not rooting for

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

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.



Twitter: @oakparksports

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Reader Comments

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Veteran Martial Artist  

Posted: January 29th, 2012 11:08 PM

Brad, it seems like your opinion of the actual sport/martial art context of MMA is clouded by your distaste of the way the UFC organization promotes their events, and the fact that you don't want your daughter being exposed to it. Don't you think it's important to judge the value of a sport/martial art based on in-depth knowledge and experience in the sport, as oppose to how 1 company advertises the sport?

Veteran Martial Artist  

Posted: January 27th, 2012 4:03 AM

wrestling, such as Chinese Shaui Jiao, Japanese Sumo/Judo and western, indian and south east asian varieties, are all forms of the oldest battlefield martial arts. MMA is also an evolution of combat into a sport. So past the techniques, principles, strategies, the "art" of MMA... there exists a historical value in regards to the study of forms of human combat. After all, all legit organized martial arts/combat sports are studies of different forms of human combat, MMA is just more comprehensive.

Veteran Martial Artist  

Posted: January 27th, 2012 3:53 AM

Brad, read my comments on your other interview article, but here I want to address your judgement of calling UFC (which showcases MMA) "pointless". In terms of martial arts, not only is MAA NOT "pointless", but it's the more most relevant context in contemporary martial arts history. It's the closet activity that comes close to a real fight, that happens in a safe and controlled context. Boxing was developed out street fighting, cont...


Posted: January 25th, 2012 11:35 PM

Brad, who knew you were a sports fan. I figured you more for a Lifetime Channel viewer.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 23rd, 2012 4:35 PM

On the mark, Brad. The ads are uglier than anything that happened in the Collisseum!


Posted: January 23rd, 2012 4:28 PM

I fail to see how mixed martial arts is any more violent than boxing. In fact, its a sport that incorporates boxing, as well as kickboxing, wrestling, jujitsu, etc. You are completely ignorant on the subject, not to mention hypocritical in complaining that its being advertised during another sport where giant hulking men constantly ram into each other and cause injury. I'd imagine pro football causes far more lifelong injuries than a couple 15-25 minute bouts every year


Posted: January 23rd, 2012 4:08 PM

You are one of the most misinformed people I've ever had the displeasure of reading an article from. Do everyone a favor and learn a little bit about a topic before you trash a sport and people's livelihood. I'm not even the biggest mixed martial arts fan in the world, but to call these athletes "obviously clueless" is clueless on your part.

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