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  1. --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Forget the cheap shots, cage fighting is a virtuous sport

    Forget the cheap shots, cage fighting is a virtuous sport

    We should lift the ban on what critics dismiss as ''human cockfighting''.

    ROME v Carthage, Harry Potter v Voldemort, Melbourne v Sydney - some rivalries are timeless. And as a Melburnian, I know where I'd prefer to live. But Sydney has one great thing Melbourne hasn't: mixed martial arts competitions, or so-called ''cage fighting''. Technically, this is not illegal in Victoria, but fighting in cages is outlawed. ''I have never approved and will not be approving any combat sport competitions staged in cages,'' said Sports Minister Andrew Merlino in 2007.


    Matt Hughes helps Renzo Gracie up in the third round of their match at Ultimate Fighting Championship 112.

    But the sport labelled ''human cockfighting'' by US senator John McCain was a sellout hit in Sydney. The Ultimate Fighting Championship debuted in Australia in February to the rapture of cageside fans.

    As a philosopher and lover of all things noble and beautiful, I was of course enthralled by the chance of seeing grown men punching, kicking and choking one another with goodwill, passion and skill.

    I'm not alone in this. Mixed martial arts isn't a fringe sport with a few scattered followers and unknown masters. It's big business that captivates large audiences and features gifted, driven athletes. It's a bona fide international sport and it has a growing following in Australia - a country that has traditionally esteemed physical prowess.

    Anyone who perceptively follows this sport, or who participates, quickly realises this is not a free-for-all. It is not a brawl. It is two well-trained, disciplined athletes trying to win a match through skill, guile and endurance.

    Much like rugby, AFL or hockey, it sometimes involves blood. Some fans might be fixated on this, but this is an indictment of audiences, not the sport. And, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University, mixed martial arts has a similar injury rate to boxing, but with a lower knock-out rate - which ''may help prevent brain injury''.

    Let's concede that, as a martial art, it does involve wounding or incapacitating the opponent. But even this requires or cultivates virtues: physical, moral and aesthetic. For example, it requires strength, co-ordination and endurance to ''inflict damage most effectively''. To defend yourself while taking down and armlocking a well-trained and strong opponent is anything but skill-free. It entails mastery of several styles and ranges of fighting, from the close-range chess-match of grappling, to the long-range blitz of kicks. These, then, are physical virtues - excellences of the trained body.

    But there are moral virtues, too. To step into the cage again and again is not the deed of a coward - it requires the virtue of courage. One must fear the danger and threat of pain, and rationally confront them with the help of one's knowledge and will. Aristotle recognised this as a genuine virtue, and so do I.

    There are others from the Greek and Christian traditions: temperance, to keep one's body and mind fit; generosity, to give one's opponent his dues; mercy, to show restraint in the face of victory; and magnanimity, or ''greatness of soul'', which keeps one from pettiness of spirit.

    This is not to say that every mixed martial arts fighter is a saint - they can, of course, be corrupted by pride, warped by money-lust, or simply crushed by the corporate and technical demands. But virtues are human traits, not those of gods: and they describe these committed sportspeople well.

    And alongside these, there are aesthetic virtues: those beautiful excellences of body. Even the most blinkered, no-nonsense fighter will admit the elegance of a perfectly executed throw: the timing, the arc of the leg, twist of the hips. But there are also the beauties of fit, well-trained physiques, male and female: sculpted abdomens, clean jawlines, and the arresting gaze of the mind in ''flow''.

    Of course, you can see these beauties in other sports, without the violence. But they will not be married to that great, mortal moment of combat. Those who've never fought cannot understand this, but this is a moment of profound existential insight. It requires aggression, no doubt, but also humility and patience - recognising one's failings and blind spots, and having the virtue to calmly, thoughtfully work through them, ''on one's feet''. It can rejuvenate and reaffirm one's sense of self.

    Perhaps the fair-weather fans screaming for blood cageside cannot see it - but this is no grounds for criticism of the sport or its athletes.

    Mixed martial arts is not a ''cockfight'' - it's a fair and free fight, with all the genuine virtues this entails. Let's welcome it in Victoria.

    Damon Young is a philosopher and the author of Distraction: A Philosopher's Guide to Being Free.

    From TheAge.com.au, Victoria's daily.
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  2. DAYoung is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/11/2010 6:13pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    This dude's clearly an idiot. Everyone knows MMA turns nice people into bloodthirsty barbarians rattling the gates of Rome and clamouring for pillage.

    Also: barbarians.
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  3. danno is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/11/2010 6:57pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    let the word be heard!
  4. DAYoung is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/11/2010 8:21pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    The original Age article is here, if you want to read comments: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/soc...0411-s0ot.html
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  5. Holy Moment is online now
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    Posted On:
    4/11/2010 8:47pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by DAYoung View Post
    The original Age article is here, if you want to read comments: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/soc...0411-s0ot.html
    Wankity wankity wankity WANK!

    Oh, hai gayz, just an other elitist popping by to tell you that cage fighting is a despicable and barbarous activity. If you like it, that automatically means that I'm better than you!
  6. pontoon is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/12/2010 1:58am


     Style: Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Just quietly, Melbourne sucks.
  7. MSphinx is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/12/2010 9:34am


     Style: Muay Thai

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Isn't Matt Hughes the guy who: beat up his dad; knocked up a gym skank; cut off a live piglet's testicles and threw them at his friend; made out with an 13 year old girl while he was in college; ended up marrying said 13 year old when she became legal, had sex with her the day after she had breast implant surgery, right there in the recovery room, tearing her stitches; and tried it again (failing this time) while she was in hospital recovering from giving birth?

    He's not exactly the best subject for a picture showcasing virtue.

    Though I do have to admit the recovery room sex must have been awesome.
    Last edited by MSphinx; 4/12/2010 9:37am at .
  8. PizDoff is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/12/2010 11:47am

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     Style: Grappling

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Where did you infer this article was about Matt Hughes?
    I added the picture myself due to it's timely relevance. A single virtuous act where a cheap shot may have been implemented, does not a person make.

    The unnamed bloody picture now added in the original article is Krzysztof "The Polish Experiment" Soszynski, a name that took me way too long to confirm.
  9. DAYoung is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/12/2010 5:21pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Msphinx, you've rightly identified the failure of my argument.

    I concede.
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  10. danno is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/12/2010 5:54pm

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    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    who chose the photo to go with the article shown on the age website?
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