I’m going to take a punt here and predict that you’re not a fan of MMA.
I read your opinion piece titled ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship a bloody disgrace” on Monday and quite frankly, am disturbed and disappointed that someone I considered to be at the forefront of sports journalism in this country would publish something as ill-informed and unquantified as that rubbish.
Seriously, some of your statements are nothing short of insulting and embarrassingly misguided, including, but not limited to, “And why are the competitors allowed to do all this inside a cage when it's illegal on the streets?” or this one; “The beauty of all sport is the toughness and determination of its competitors. The pain they put themselves through to become the best. The injury risks they face in rugby league and all the footy codes. At least their sport involves a large degree of skill - and it's not just a contest to violently bash another person into submission. People have been sent to jail for less than what happened inside a cage on Saturday night.”
It’s difficult to know where to start in terms of a retort but I’ll compare your argument with the excessive media coverage of Brett White's punch up with Steve Price in the 2009 rugby league Origin series. An act of sheer violence and hot-headedness by an unskilled, unprotected (I don’t recall him wearing gloves) football player letting his emotions get the better of him by attacking an unsuspecting opponent.
An act that has shades of King’s Cross thuggery written all over it.
You mentioned that you “felt sick” watching the UFC on Saturday, well personally I felt sick when Queensland’s Dallas Johnson was knocked unconscious numerous times in the 2007 Origin series and was cleared by doctors to continue on playing.
That’s not tough, that’s just dangerous.
While we are on the whole concussion debate, yes, MMA combatants are sometimes knocked out in competition – that’s a reality in most combat sports. However, after such an occurrence, they are not medically cleared to train, let alone compete, for up to two, sometimes three months. A rugby league club would send their soldiers back onto the paddock the following day.
I can imagine that if you are reading this (which I doubt you will), you’ll be seriously questioning my personal motives right about now, given that I own this MMA website – so let me quickly lay my cards on the table.
First of all, I am a huge fan of rugby league. I’ve been a Cronulla Sharks season ticket holder for the last six or seven years, I cut my teeth as a junior journalist writing for the official NRL website (NRL.com) and even took a camera out to the Sharks 2012 finals match against North Queensland this year (you can watch it on YouTube here if you wish).
It would be safe to declare me a die-hard rugby league tragic.
The reason I see these points as relevant is to highlight that “UFC fans” are not a specific breed or type any more than NRL, cricket or AFL fans are. I’m your everyday Aussie sports fan, who happens to like MMA as well.
So MMA fighters have no skill? Let’s attack this one by first pointing out that according to rugby league tough-nut Mark Geyer, 20 percent of rugby league is based on wrestling - an individual sport that is paramount to success as an MMA athlete. Throw in the years of dedication required to master the arts of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), boxing, kickboxing and grappling – all of which are used in MMA and I can’t understand how you came to such an assertion.
In covering the UFC event this past Saturday in Brisbane, I was fortunate enough to spend time with journalists from all corners of the globe, all of whom take the time to know and understand the sport of MMA before they put pen to paper.
Media representatives who have forgotten more about sports journalism that I’ll ever know – including Adam Curley from Fox Sports, Paul Kent from The Daily Telegraph and television crews from mainstream stations Seven, Nine and Ten. Despite their varying degrees of interest in the event, each journalist covered the event the only way one should – with a sound understanding of what they were watching.
I completely understand that an opinion piece generates website traffic and engagement – which in turn generates revenue. Hell, I’m the one who green lights a photo slideshow of an attractive Octagon girl simply to hit a monthly revenue target.
But as the saying goes; “with great power, comes great responsibility” and I believe that you abused that power by writing the misinformed and completely misguided slam piece you did on Monday.
I’m all for personal opinion and I understand that MMA isn’t for everyone but please; make yours an educated one next time.
UFC Director of Operations for the region Tom Wright was correct in telling you that our complete, and well researched coverage of UFC Brisbane was trending higher than the cricket Ashes coverage on Monday. Funny that.
See you Octagonside next year – or not.