This really shouldn't be a long article. In fact, it should be extremely short. To be honest, I'm not even sure how to write this in such a way that it fits in with the overall tone established by previous entries in this featured column section. Of course, I could always throw in some derisive comments which insult the reader (which I will because it keeps me entertained as I write this). Although I do realize that taking advantage of the opportunity to amuse myself doesn't really provide you with much entertainment, unless you're just a self-loathing masochist.
But really, this just isn't that funny. I won't go so far to say that "it's no laughing matter", because it's nothing to get genuinely worked up about. And it's not that insightful either, unless you're reading this as a casual fan of combat sports who's never given the subject much thought.
The long and short of it:
<img src="http://www.bullshido.net/images/features/dbotm/dempsey-fall.jpg" alt="Jack Dempsey falling out of the ring" class="caption-img">
This picture of the great Jack Dempsey falling out of the ring doesn't exactly prove my point but hey, it's Jack Dempsey falling out of the ring!
</div>Fighting in a ring is great if the rules center around keeping two people on their feet, and/or grappling. For primarily striking-based combat sports it's all hunky-dory. If two fighters hang on to each other too long or start pushing each other around instead of the usual attempts to inflict Parkinson's1, the ref will step in and separate them faster than a chaperone at an Oral Roberts Junior High dance.
But where grappling is involved you need an actual barrier to keep people who are fighting in earnest from spilling out into the crowd and harmful objects. This isn't the WWE, and when fighters are sincerely trying to hurt their opponents, promoters have a responsibility to provide a controlled environment in which they can do so enthusiastically. If three or four ropes are all that's separating you from taking a spill several feet onto concrete, that's just not practical.
Now the Japanese employ an innovative solution to this which involves maintaining a squad of sous-refs to push fighters back inside the ring. But this is about as realistic as employing rodeo clowns to stand on the outer edge of a NASCAR track to keep the Tide car from washing a load of American genes with an uncontrolled spin cycle.
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<img src="http://www.bullshido.net/images/features/dbotm/affliction-ring.jpg" alt="Falling out of Affliction's ring" class="caption-img">
Fighters suffering from an affliction called The Ring
</div>Let's take the first Affliction event. How many of those fights saw one or both of the fighters going through the ropes, at least partially, during the course of their fight? No, seriously, how many... I don't remember. I think it was at least 3, but it was several months ago so I can't be sure. Regardless, it's distracting for the fans but even worse for the fighters. They should be allowed to focus on the guy trying to smash them into a meat puddle. The difficulty level is already pretty high without the need to avoid being caught in a poorly-constructed net or being thrown into the goober taking pictures for Sherdog. Despite the fact that we've got Joe Rogan, MMA is not Fear Factor; most of us want to see the fighters employing their skills and not performing feats of balance or eating rotten duck embryos.
Honestly I can't figure out the reasons why promoters don't use a cage. Yes, it might not seem as classy as a ring. The counterpoint to that is the fact that they'd sell more beer and concession swill. It's not like there's a market for ringside champagne and fine dining anyway. I sit ringside nearly 20 times a year for regional shows as a judge and probably wouldn't be able to enjoy my risotto if it were incidentally flavored with crotch sweat, spittle, and the occasional garnish of mouthpiece.
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<img src="http://www.bullshido.net/images/features/dbotm/wolverine-cage.jpg" alt="Wolverine in a cage" class="caption-img">
This is what most people think a "Cage Fight" entails. Why shatter the image when you can bank on it?
</div>Besides, the "Cage Fighter" idea sells shirts and makes females quiver (at least that's what the guys who walk around in "Cage Fighter" brand T-shirts would like to think). I actually saw some of these the other day at the mall, so you know there's a market for it (read: people who don't actually train but want to impress strangers and/or aren't old enough to purchase male enhancement drugs).
So our Douchebag of the Month this time around is The Ring. Like a bad horror film, the premise in this case is just as ominous; if promoters don't start using cages to keep their fighters and fans safe, within 7 years someone will likely die.
And then John McCain's going to take out his election frustrations on the sport all over again. That's just what we need.
1. Michael J. Fox isn't known for his boxing any more than Cassius Clay is for his bad sitcom acting.