SPORTS DOCTOR- MMA stoppage: Underhanded ploy or act of mercy?
There's no point in comparing mixed martial arts to boxing. I could never convince the new wave of fight fans that the MMA is a brutal excuse to slice someone's cheek with a quick shin across the face, lacking poetry, dignity, and form.
But blood and pus don't require dignity.
This past weekend MMA fans got a taste of what boxing aficionados have been trying to spit out for decades: the controversial stoppage. Despite lying on the canvas and being beaten on the head for over a minute, Kimbo Slice emerged victorious 38 seconds into the third round. Newark still reverberates with the boos.
Let this boxing fan give you MMA, UFC, and K1 fans some advice: first, if your sport's biggest fight takes place in Newark, you have some explaining to do; second, if you boo the stoppage and not the decision, you need serious psychiatric care.
Kimbo Slice's win isn't what prompted the 8,000 MMA fans in attendance to spit and spew filth. His opponent, James Thompson– reputedly an easy knockout– flurried well on the floor, but he had to, since while standing he was utterly destroyed.
Hey, wait a minute– he was standing? And the fight was stopped? What kind of unjustified, bogus, underhanded decision was that? Let me get out my personalized stationary so I can write my congressman.
The MMA obviously gets its referees from Old School Fightland, a pastoral place where protecting fighters is a primary concern. Don't these refs know that such protection is contrary to the MMA's philosophy? What's next, silver spittoons?
James Thompson was still standing in the third round, albeit a bit lopsided. He couldn't help but list, as his left ear would need a warning if it were shown on the Discovery Channel. Cauliflower ear is nothing new, but in all my years of watching boxing, I've never seen such a horror show.
You probably haven't seen an ear like Thompson's either. People with gangrenous ears are usually in the hospital. If Mike Tyson had bitten Thompson's ear, he would be six feet under, a victim of staph or MRSA or whatever lives in that liter of pus.
Controversial stoppage? If this had been boxing, the fight never would have started. One look at James Thompson and any self-respecting coordinator, trainer, or referee would have put the kibosh on the bout posthaste. But there's little to no room for self-respect in the MMA.
Mixed martial arts may have begun as a tribute to the Greek pankration and Bruce Lee, but today it's devolved into a Soviet cigarette: sawdust, asbestos, and who knows what else on the inside.
Despite the MMA's claim that it showcases martial arts for real unarmed combat situations, one would be hard-pressed to identity any Jiu-Jitsu, karate, or wrestling moves in a bout. A kick does not karate make, and although Jiu-Jitsu works well on the ground, it doesn't usually involve flailing at someone's head.
When I talk to MMA fans and they tout its superiority to boxing, they always fall back on the argument that it's more real. MMA fighters are superior, not inferior, because they don't have that whole "man vs. himself" thing to consider. It's man vs. man, and the only thing that would make it more real is if someone died at the end.
Neither Kimbo Slice nor James Thompson died, and that's really why those 8,000 fans are still grumbling in the New Jersey streets. They don't care who won; they care about the stoppage. That Thompson was so punch-drunk he took a swing at the referee only meant that he was near the end, and the end is the whole point.
The referee claims he didn't want the fighters to get hurt, so he stopped the fight. For all intents and purposes, getting hurt is the MMA's bread and butter. Whatever hurts the most sells. If an ear explodes, fine. Being unable to defend one's self isn't a reason to stop; it's a reason to throw that final blow.
If I were an MMA fan, I might be angry too. I'd want the fight to end with someone's being a bloody unconscious smear. I'd also be a sociopath who paid good money for the privilege.