Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Ultimate Fighting-Just Plain Wrong

Last weekend patrons filled the Bell Centre in Montreal to watch the latest Canadian chapter in the ultimate fighting experience. It was entitled UFC 124, indicating that one of the sponsoring organizations had promoted one hundred and twenty-three previous experiences.

For a certain segment of society, these are cool events. There is an element of competition, as two opponents enter the cage and battle. Ultimately, and unfortunately, it comes down to money. The province of Ontario had banned these events until recently.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has indicated that it is “very unlikely” that he would be attending the first regulated fight in Ontario to be held in Toronto in late April. As quoted in a recent article in the Toronto Star, he stated: “I’m pleased that Ontarians who have a real interest in this will now have this option available to them”. With very little imaginative thought, I can come up with half a dozen ideas that people in Ontario might be interested in, but will never be regulated in this province. You may have your own suggestions in that area.

McGuinty was pleased that the match in Ontario would generate about six million dollars in revenue for the province. Big deal. It’s still blood money.

I am not opposed to combat in the ring. I have followed boxing for fifty years, and enjoyed the likes of Jersey Joe Walcott, Kid Gallivan, Archie Moore, Rocky Marciano, Ali, Spinks, and Lennox Lewis. I have always chuckled at the exploits of the professional wrestling world, although I knew every match was pre-determined.

The mixed martial arts contests take the whole human personal combat experience several steps further. If I had young children, I would try to shelter them from the experience. Most of the competitors are boisterous and rude. Most are tattooed from stem to stern. Many have had plenty of experience with steroids and other illegal drugs. I would not like my kids to think this activity is acceptable.

The fights have been shown on televisions in bars in Ontario for several years. Bar staff find these nights to be a real challenge. Patrons hoot and holler throughout the fight, then carry the aggression onto the parking lot.

Granted, there is an audience for the events. It borders on a lunatic fringe. Tickets for the last event in Montreal sold for $ 550 each on the Ultimate Fighting Challenge website. You can get two weeks in Cuba in February for the same amount!

Some of the quotes from the Star article were truly disturbing. Matthew Fidalgo is described as a “road warrior for the Ultimate Fighting Championship”. His thoughts? “It’s a big deal. It’s what everyone in Ontario wants, and …now we have it in our home turf and it’s the best thing ever.” I don’t quite agree with your every word, Matthew. There is always sliced bread!

Slick marketers have done a good job selling this product. They garnered television rights; they hyped the “blood and guts” nature of the product; they emphasized the sizzle.

The activity does not belong on the front page of a sports section of a major Canadian newspaper. It does not belong on any page of a sports section. It is not a sport. Nor is professional wrestling. They are for entertainment. If that is your choice for entertainment, go for it. Tickets will be on sale soon for the event in Toronto. More than fifty thousand fans are expected at the event. That does not make it right.

But since this is a sports column, and not an entertainment feature, this concludes my weekly rant.

James Hurst

December 14, 2010

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