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Cover Story

Caged Rage Page 3

Pent-up Utah machismo meets its match in Mixed Martial Arts fighting.

By Geoff Griffin
Posted // November 28,2007 -

No Eye Gouging, Please
MMA has come a long way since the 1990s, when Arizona Senator and Republican Presidential candidate John McCain called MMA “human cockfighting” and led a campaign that resulted in MMA fights being removed from cable airwaves and banned in 36 states.

MMA had come to America in the early 1990s with the claim that it would allow the various martial-arts disciplines to prove theirs was the best system of self-defense in a no-holds barred fight. The new form of fighting was seen as more spectacle than sport, partially because there were only two rules—no eye gouging and no fish-hooking—and anything else was allowed. That led to McCain’s charge, and the sport appeared to be washed up heading into the 21st century.

But, in 2001, an investor group purchased UFC and placed former fighter Dana White in charge of the business. Rules were added to protect fighters (no head butting, hair pulling, kneeing the head of a downed opponent, putting a finger into an orifice or laceration of an opponent, etc.) and White began aggressively promoting the sport on TV with spectacular success. In May 2007, Sports Illustrated reported UFC’s reality show Ultimate Fighter regularly draws better than the NBA or Major League Baseball among the highly coveted demographic of males age 18-34. In 2006, UFC’s pay-per-view events made more money than the pay-per-view events for boxing on HBO or WWE wrestling.

Despite reaching that level of commercial appeal, MMA still “gets a bad rap because it’s a sport without a ball,” Stidham says. He recalled listening to an 80-something woman yell “Kill ’em,” while attending last year’s Utah-BYU football game. “If they’re fighting over yardage it’s OK, but once they step into a cage, suddenly it’s bad. There’s never been a death in MMA. The same can’t be said for Little League baseball.”

src=data/449BBE6E-021E-D69E-7A3370304BA7D31B/userData/Image/071129/handsoverface.jpgsrc=data/449BBE6E-021E-D69E-7A3370304BA7D31B/userData/Image/071129/Crying.jpgProponents of MMA argue that injuries from their sport aren’t as bad as they seem when viewed from a long-term perspective. The cuts and bruises on the faces and bodies of MMA fighters can be seen immediately but will heal; the repeated blows to the head and body suffered by boxers and football players can’t be seen right away but take a serious toll later. An MMA fighter might look bad when he walks out of the cage, but is in happier shape than a 50-year-old former boxer who can’t remember anything or a middle-age running back who can’t walk after his playing days are over.

For some fighters, MMA is a safe and controlled outlet for aggression.

“I like to beat up other girls,” says Andrea Miller, a female MMA fighter. “When I do it this way, I make money and don’t get in trouble. I can take out my anger without getting the law involved.”

Some argue that MMA represents the next step in contact sports, because it is fighting’s ultimate free market.

“It’s the evolution of fighting,” Alexander Scott says recently while watching fights in downtown Salt Lake City. He has trained in the martial arts and looks forward to trying his first fight in 2008. “There’s so much that goes into it. It’s vicious but, at the same time, it’s a science.”

Many fighters stress MMA is not so much about hurting somebody else, but training in order to be able execute a game plan or react to what’s needed in a split second—as in baseball or basketball.

“Being a tough sonofabitch certainly doesn’t hurt, that’s for sure,” fighter Salvador Sanchez explains. “But it only gets you so far. The higher up you get the more it becomes like chess-match moves. You aren’t thinking about hurting the other guy but about what moves you need to make to counter his moves. If you have two trained fighters, it’s really quite beautiful. It becomes an art form.”

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Posted // March 8,2008 at 08:38 hey why don’t you write an article that actually has important information in it? like where the fights are held, how you can get tickets etc. every article in the city weekly turns into a pointless religious argument of non-mormons against mormons.


Posted // December 5,2007 at 10:10 Oh, I see. So, because your kid is hyper, it’s okay for him, as a Mormon, to hang out in bars and clubs? Based on my experience with Mormons, that makes perfect sense. Your rules only apply when they’re convenient.nnAnd, because your kid is hyper, you figure that JC would enjoy that he (your Mormon kid) hangs out in bars beating other people up? That makes sense, too. Obviously, Jesus was a violent dude, and this is exactly how he would like for you folks, his chosen people, to honor and represent him.nnThere’s loads of hyper people that don’t feel the need to beat the shit out of others. This is not football. This is a sport designed for the sole purpose of hurting a person before they do the same to you. It is pure violence, and nothing more. nnWhile you folks (Mormons) continue to proclaim that you’re the chosen ones, and continue to look down upon others for living differently than you, I’ll continue to point out your rampant hypocrisy.


Posted // December 5,2007 at 08:38 As a mother to a fighter and an active mormon too-- I will add that my son has been hyperactive since tiny. This is a good outlet for him physically. Behind the media hype there is much respect shown between contestants and fighting is much more conservative than it used to be so that they don’t KILL each other. There is a mental toughness associated with the sport that spills into other areas of life.nnTo confused and not so confused All are hypocrites so get off your high horses


Posted // December 4,2007 at 08:23 As a devout LDS member I am very surprised at the ignorance some people have about the LDS faith and the Book Of Mormon. It does not come to me as a surprise that the quote from the Book of Mormon about Captain Moroni is taken out of context to be used to cause contriversy about Mormon’s fighting in the MMA. Captain Moroni’s quote was meant to inforce that he would protect his people from their enemies and preserve their lands and familes. His people were under attack for their beliefs. So it is the same today, when some people do not believe what someone else believes they twist turths to be used for their advantage to ridicule or degrade that person or group of people. nnThe MMA is a sport just like wrestling or football where the particiipants have to train and use self dicipline to excell in their sport. We as a society live for sports of all kinds; such as golf, fishing, tennis, gymnastics, the Olympics and the Superbowl, just to mention a few. Not ALL Mormon males have pinned up aggression, but atleat there are organized sports of all kinds that anyone with aggression OR NOT can participate in for fun and satisfaction, and we as a society enjoy watching them. I am sure that Confused enjoys watching football and other sports as well as participating in them. So don’t be so quick to judge, lest ye also be judged.


Posted // December 3,2007 at 06:28 I wonder if the LDS fighters figure they’re doing something that Christ would approve of. Aren’t the faithful supposed to live as Christ would have them live? Was Christ a pugilist, or was he a peace monger? nnConsidering the long list of restrictions that most LDS faithful live by, I understand male Mormon aggression. Personally, I think JC would prefer that his followers sit down over a few beers (forbidden to Mormons) and converse with each other peacefully, rather than enter a cage and beat the living shit out of each other (okay with Mormons).nnFurthermore, it seems very contradictory for supposedly faithful LDS members to enter-and possibly profit from- establishmets (bars and clubs) that are railed against by The Church. This is yet another example of local religious hypocrisy.