Friday night topic: The rise of mixed martial arts

The popularity of mixed martial arts has mushroomed over the past few years thanks in large part to the success of the UFC. MMA, as it's come to be called, is our closest contemporary counterpart to the gladiatorial combat that captivated audiences centuries ago. I've slowly become captivated myself, entranced by the sport's unique blend of freakish athletics, high-level martial arts wizardry, and incredible toughness. The sweaty, occasionally spandex-clad wrestling and grappling can be a little homoerotic at times, but for me it's a small price to pay to watch Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts engage in what has been called the art of human origami. Besides, there's no shortage of entertaining heroes and villains within the growing ranks of professional fighters, and while some of the pre-fight hype and posturing is no doubt for show, the violence that occurs within the cage is very much real.

Too real for some. The sport still isn't sanctioned in a handful of US states and Canadian provinces, and it's easy to see why folks might be squeamish given the blood stains left behind by some of the more contentious battles. At the very least, kids probably shouldn't be watching combatants drop vicious elbows, apply trachea-crushing chokes, or otherwise beat their opponents into submission.

TR readers tend to be largely disinterested in sports, but the content of modern video games suggests that we very much enjoy violent combat. So, have you been bitten by the MMA bug? Is there anything wrong with celebrating the violent clash of consenting adults? Discuss.

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