Not a blood sport

Last Friday, Havoc Fighting Championships held Havoc 5 in Red Deer.

Last Friday, Havoc Fighting Championships held Havoc 5 in Red Deer.

Once again, the tickets to the event sold out and a full house gathered.

It’s not surprising considering the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Some say it is the fastest growing sport in the world and that professional fighters are the most recognized people in the world.

Canadian Hockey fans may not like to hear it, but it has even been said that Canadian Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter (and champion) Georges St-Pierre is more widely known than Wayne Gretzky. Comments like these cause some unrest among the general population because, while MMA is incredibly popular, it is also incredibly controversial. Many people seem to think it is akin to a blood sport and condemn it.

Hockey players are revered for their athleticism and hockey is recognized as our national pastime. Fighting doesn’t help hockey teams win a game, yet it is still part of the game and we accept it as such.

When a brawl breaks out in a hockey game, fans erupt with cheers and shouts. The bigger the fight, the more excited the crowd gets.

Why is it then, when two athletes get into the cage to participate in a sport that is nothing but fighting, it becomes a blood sport?

Surely, such a contest should have more merit when fighting is the actual goal, not less.

Some people may think MMA fighters are thugs who get into the sport so they can beat up other fighters who think it’s cool to get into a fight. Those people are wrong.

Most fighters are extremely dedicated and highly trained athletes. They don’t want to beat each other up, they want to test their skills against each other and see if they can best each other using their skills and technique.

It’s the same as any other sport, it’s just that the mediums are different.

In hockey, players skate, check and score goals to best each other and prove who is the better team. In MMA, the goal is the same, fighters just strike to land kicks, punches, elbows and knees and grapple to force submission moves to prove who is best.

It’s confusing to brand fighters, athletes who pour their hearts and souls into their art, as thugs while other athletes are praised for their dedication to the sport. It is time we stopped painting all fighters with the same brush and started examining the individual cases. Sure, there are still thugs in MMA, but you find jerks in any sport. There are plenty of goons in hockey but that doesn’t mean the sport itself is only for louts. Regardless of the sport, all athletes deserve recognition for their dedication.