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MMA to be Banned in Madison, IN?
by Mike Maloney (MMA)
Posted on March 24, 2006, 7:55 AM

There has been a recent attempt in Madison, IN, to ban outright mixed martial arts (MMA) or ‘ultimate fighting’ from taking place within the city. While the legislation has not passed, it is in the works, and has the backing of the mayor. The Madison Courier has been covering this story, and yesterday published an op. ed. piece attempting to attack MMA as a whole. It was a fairly poor journalistic piece, and the attacks made were baseless and lacked any evidence of research. The following are some excerpts from the column and my personal rebuttals to the points made:

(The article in its entirety can be read here. A related article covering the specific ordinance can be read here.)

"The goal of the “sport” is to pit two pugilists against one another until only one is standing. The rules are few. The winner takes home some cash. The loser leaves with a bruised ego and severe injuries."

The rules are not few. There are a number of rules in place to protect fighters from serious injury, just as there is in boxing. Fighters are prohibited from targeting the back of the head. They are prohibited from headbutting. They are prohibited from kicking a downed opponent in the head. Many rules that are in place for boxing, you will also find in place for MMA fights. (Note: A complete set of rules for the three major MMA organizations can be found here: Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Pride Fighting Championship, and K-1)

Second, the loser of the fight is not guaranteed to leave with severe injuries. In fact, most of the time fighters are able to get up and walk out of the arena on their own power. They might require some stitches, and maybe have some bumps and bruises for the next few weeks, but again, how is this any different from boxing? If anything, MMA is safer than boxing. Boxers take hard blows to the head for up to 12 rounds, and can be on the verge of getting knocked out, but if they stand up, the fight continues, despite the fact the fighter probably shouldn’t continue. In MMA, the referees have an obligation to stop a fight once a fighter can no longer defend oneself. There is no standing eight count. If a fighter is knocked senseless, or can no longer stop their opponent from attacking, the fight is over. There is no option for the fighter to try and regain their composure, only to risk further injury to their head, something that boxing allows.

"“Ultimate fighting” is violent to an extreme. Outside the ring, such conduct would land the fighters in jail - and, perhaps, a hospital."

Ultimate fighting is a sanctioned sport that has many rules and is regulated carefully by state athletic commissions. Trying to compare it to 'street fighting' is a pathetic and irrelevant attempt to lower the validity of the sport. Again, I refer to boxing. Does anyone attack boxing because two guys punching each other outside of a boxing ring could also land them in jail or perhaps a hospital? The author is singling out MMA and trying to attack it when an incredibly similar sport in boxing goes completely unmentioned.

" “Ultimate fighting” is different than wrestling - which is violent, but orchestrated, and traditional boxing which is violent, but requires extensive training."

Here the author makes a horrible attempt at trying to differentiate between ultimate fighting and boxing, and fails miserably. Boxing is 'violent, but requires extensive training', implying that ultimate fighting somehow does not, which is a complete lie, and indicative of the lack of knowledge this writer has when it comes to MMA. First off, there are two types of fighters when it comes to boxing. There are the professionals, the people who have enough talent and make enough money that their career is boxing. On the flipside, there are amateurs, people who box, but don't make enough money to do it on a full-time basis. In this set up, the professionals undoubtedly spend more time training, because they have the means to do so. They are professional boxers, and as such, it is as much their job to train for their fights as it is to actually fight. That isn't to say amateur boxers don't train, because they do, but they just don't have the same ability to invest all their time into training.

The same applies for MMA. The top fighters, the 'professional' fighters, make enough money to be able to focus solely on their fighting. As an example, Rich Franklin is the current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight Champion. Franklin spends many hours every day training in a variety of fighting styles, in addition to constant workouts and a very strict diet. There is no down time for Franklin; he is constantly training for his next fight, which are generally months apart from each other. Again, amateur fighters don't have the luxury of spending that kind of time solely on training, but to imply that to train for an MMA bout is any less intensive than for a boxing match is downright ignorant.

"“Ultimate fighting” is nothing more than two schoolyard bullies pounding the stuffing out of their opponent. There is no way it can be defended as a sport or entertainment."

This is a very poorly written attempt to finish a column. It is a meaningless attack at MMA that has absolutely no ground to stand on whatsoever. The author has made absolutely no attempt to explain why they feel the need to discredit ultimate fighting outside of their worthless claim that it doesn't require 'extensive training' like boxing does. Then, feeling that they have somehow made a point (which they haven't), they top off the column by again comparing ultimate fighting to street fighting, despite the fact that that argument still holds no validity.

To claim that there is no way it can be defended as a sport or entertainment is amusing at best, considering I, along with others who have surely responded to this column, have defended it as a sport (I'm sure the Nevada State Athletic Commission could do so to if you felt like contacting them), and trying to deny it as entertainment is a complete joke considering the millions of UFC fans there currently are in this country. You can't discredit something as entertainment when millions specifically watch it for just that.

Frankly, the editor should be ashamed that such a poorly written and ignorantly-biased piece of writing was actually printed for the public to see. The staff at that paper, specifically the person responsible for writing such an article clearly has no understanding as to what MMA is, and in the future they should do some research before mindlessly attacking a sport and its credibility.

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