People like this sport. They really do. All kinds of people, not just the gun-toting, confederate-flag waving guys that were a primary audience early on (that last sentence I’m paraphrasing from memory of L. John Werthheim’s Blood in the Cage, a book about the rise of the UFC). Since I’m a gay guy in the upper Midwest, I guess I prove my point.
But it goes beyond that. My husband (who has dressed as Cher, Dorothy Zbornak, and Effie Trinket for Halloween) also loves it. The straight single girl who was the friend of a friend at Sunday brunch the other day could talk circles around me in regards to recent matches. My best lesbian friend loves it, and she’s obviously not into it for the hot guys. My sister-in-law and mother-of-two enjoys it, too. So, why aren’t you watching it yet?
It’s too bloody. I hear that a lot. While it can be bloody, it’s probably not as bloody as you think. Most of the time, both guys can shake hands or bump gloves at the conclusion of a match. The purpose isn’t to draw blood, although I’m sure that aspect does appeal to some. Heck, even I like it within reason. But the matches have a set number of rounds, usually three five-minute rounds (five rounds for big draws), so it’s not a brawl where only one man is left standing.
Some parts of your body just bleed a lot, too. It’s not the end of the world. Eyebrows, head cuts, noses. Moms know this. It doesn’t take much to look terrible. If you’ve happened to glance at a match and its looked like an absolute blood bath, chances are it was likely not as terrible as you think—one of the competitors was just a bleeder and couldn’t hold his mud, as they say. Out of the sevenish matches I watched on Fight Night last night, only one had a fair measure of blood, from a cut on the back of a scalp, and was actually fairly innocuous.
Along with the blood, some people just don’t like to watch other people get hurt. But that, also, is not as bad as you might think. With all the talk about head injuries having lasting effects on football players and boxers, mixed martial arts has a very good track record. Before every match, they give you the stats of the competitors, and it’s the norm to see guys fighting into their upper thirties and last night, Mike Pyle won his match at 40. A knock-out is not the same as a concussion (and it’s far from the only way to win a match). I’m not going to site a whole bunch of scientific articles, but my husband who dresses in drag for Halloween? He’s a neuropsychologist, and he says these guys are fine. They certainly last a lot longer than your average NFL player.