February 2, 2009

UFC

Being the kind of guy who is totally up to date on all major social trends, I finally watched on TV some bouts of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the big growth spectator sport of the 2000s. As you no doubt know better than I do, this is a "mixed martial arts" competition. Originally, it was put together by, among others, John Milius (screenwriter of "Apocalypse Now," director of "Red Dawn," and the model for John Goodman's Walter Sobachek in "The Big Lebowski") to answer classic male questions such as: "Who would win in a fight: a boxer or a wrestler? A tai chi blackbelt or a krav maga adept?"

It has since evolved so that most fighters have a blend of skills, although you can still kind of tell which discipline they started out in. The two fighters typically start out boxing, with maybe a little kicking, then end up rolling around on the ground like high school wrestlers.

To me, it's like watching wrestling in the Olympics: two guys suddenly collapse in a heap and squirm about, with the announcers going so wild with excitement that they leave out all the antecedents for their pronouns, as if Henry James had written pulp novels: "Did you see what he did to him?" "Yeah, he's really taken control." Look at the advantage he has over him!" And I keep wondering "Who? Whom? What just happened?"

One thing you've got to say for professional wrestling: it's quite clear at any single point in time who is doing what to whom. When Kurt Angle sneaks up behind The Rock and hits him over the head with a folding chair, well, that I can follow. But any kind of real grappling between well-matched experts involves such a rapid flurry of moves and countermoves aimed at establishing a small advantage in leverage that I'm mostly at sea as a viewer.

The main event of the night involved a big French Canadian guy who sat on a little Hawaiian guy and punched the little guy's defenseless head against the mat until the poor bastard finally gave up.

Allow me to make a prediction. We hear a lot about UFC being the Sport of the Future, but I suggest that the real Sport of the Future, whatever it turns out to be, will not involve hitting people in the head. Hitting them elsewhere, definitely. But not the head.

In the Ali-Frazier-Foreman era in the 1970s, boxing was a gigantic sport. It was hard to imagine it would sink so low in just 35 years. But it has, and a big reason is that as we got more familiar with what happens to boxers as they get old, it has become harder to take pleasure in the sport.

Having just watched a great 4th quarter of the Super Bowl (except for all the damn penalties), it's hard to imagine that American football will fade in popularity. But I sense that it will over the next half century because of head injuries.

So, that's my sense of the future: the favorite spectator sports will remain some form of ritualized combat, but with less brain trauma.

The UFC might turn out to be that sport since it could presumably finetune its rules (e.g., no hitting people in the head repeatedly while holding their arms down so they can't try to block your punches.) But knockouts are dramatic, and they don't require judges to decide matches. Olympic boxing, for instance, has never recovered from the ludicrous split decision Seoul in 1988 in favor of the hometown Korean over the great Roy Jones Jr.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

83 comments:

Cody said...

I love mixed martial arts events, and I try to watch as many as time allows. But I have my doubts as to whether MMA competitors would suffer the same level of head trauma as professional boxers. In boxing, a dazed opponent could go several rounds, bobbing back and forth but still capable of swinging at the other guy. In MMA, if you get dazed, you are almost assured to get taken to the mat, in which case, you will get hammered in the face or submitted.

Though, I'm curious as to what your take on the sport in general vis-a-vis race--why are there so many Brazillians in the game and why can't Asians compete at the same level?

Danindc said...

So psyched that I'm going to be the First!! to comment on this Steve, because it is up my alley and I just posted my Superbowl thoughts on my blog- which can be reached by clicking on my name I think.

That was the best Superbowl ever bar none, would have been the best contest ever if Kurt "I am the Lord's servant" Warner would have won the game on a final play "Hail Mary"...can you imagine.... I would have become born again right then and there..

Saw the UFC fight last night but knew St. Pierre was going to kill him- most knew this however your boy "Truth" thought for sure Penn would win ....He is rarely accurate which is ironic because of the moniker... be like if i lived in Iowa. St. Pierre combines all the disciplines well (wrestling, boxing, ju-jitsu)He looks to be unbeatable and is probaly the best pound for pound fighter in the world-(would love to see him fight Silva)...that's the reason I think this sport will overtake boxing - it's every guy's eternal question- who would win in a fight? Plus, these guys are humble and bust there ass in every fight- unlike Boxing, there's less damage done due to no standing eight counts, and it's well run so that figters can't hide from real competition....if it was a stock I would buy even though it's high now.

BTW - I'm glad my fighting days are (almost) over bc I would hate to run into one of these ufc trained guys in a bar- and believe me a lot of guys are doing the training ....they are some scary f#ckers... I would win almost all my bar fights bc no one expected me to go for the double leg in a bar.... buit there's usualy room, sure some girls get knocked over but oh well.. Nowadays you do that and some ahole would sprawl and knee you in the face repeatedly...no thanks

Also, Joe Rogan the UFC color commentator is the best in the business - any sport btw

to your point that football will lose popularity...hmmmm 50 years ago Horse racing and Boxing were incredibly popular but I would bet against you... I think we're becoming a stagnant culture and what's popular now will stay that way

I will say though that Shuffleboard will overtake darts as a bar game fwiw

Anonymous said...

It's a bit early to tell yet, but the rules of MMA is a lot less conducive to brain damage than those of boxing.

For instance, when grappling a superior fighter has lot less harmful ways of quickly putting down a persistent opponent than just punching him in the head 'till he gives up.

The viewability of grappling is probably a much larger issue. If it didn't work out for other grappling sports it seems pretty unlikely it will work out for MMA.

On another note, I must say I am surprised you didn't comment on the racial aspects of MMA vs boxing.

king obama said...

Steve, it is nice you have finally written about the UFC.

That fight you saw was between GSP vs BJ Penn (the welter-weight champ and the light-weight champ, respectively).

The jury is still out on long-term head injuries that exist in the UFC.

The sport is not old enough for the true long-term effects to be know for sure, but there are hopeful reasons why head injuries are not as likely to be as bad as boxing:

-There is no "standing eight count" in MMA like there is in boxing, so a ref can step in as soon as a fighter is no longer intellegently defending himself. This saves him from taking too much damage. I have seen boxing matches where the boxer keeps getting up, even after being knocked down time and time again, to keep taking more damage.

-Since MMA doesn't just involve punching and kicking, but also wrestling and submissions, fighters don't necessarily get into long "brawl sessions" that involve being punched/kicked in the face for a long time.

-The gloves are much smaller in MMA, so fighters will get TKO'd or KO'd with fewer punches, and this means they again don't take as many shots to the head as in boxing.


Overall, I find MMA to be a very exciting sport. The "ground game" (westling & submissions) takes some getting used to, but once you learn what is going on, it is no longer confusing.

Regarding whether the UFC or MMA in general will become the sport of the future: I am not sure.

The UFC has grown so rapidly (hell, it was once pretty much banned from pay-per-view) because it involves real fighting while also being fair since there are weight classes, rules and refs.

Pro-westling is fake, so it tends to get old after a while. I grew out of it by the time I was in my early teens.

That said, young men will always be excited by fighting. It seems to be hardwired into our brains.

So it is certainly possible that the UFC could one day be as big as the NFL, or maybe it won't. A lot depends on whether it is able to draw in the type of casual fans that the NFL seems to draw in (virtually everybody watches the Superbowl, even if the don't really like football!).

Paavo said...

"Having just watched a great 4th quarter of the Super Bowl (except for all the damn penalties), it's hard to imagine that American football will fade in popularity. But I sense that it will over the next half century because of head injuries."

I'm rooting for ice hockey to gain from this. It's violent, but doesn't cause nearly as much injuries.

Anonymous said...

Cody,

"Though, I'm curious as to what your take on the sport in general vis-a-vis race--why are there so many Brazillians in the game and why can't Asians compete at the same level?"

That's probably fairly easily explained by Asians on average having sucky muscle development compared to pretty much any other group. AFAIK they don't do well in any sport where explosive power is important.

The reason Brazilians do so well probably have a lot to do with widespread popularity of the sport there, and that blacks haven't gotten around to trouncing everyone else yet.

If black athletes had the same incentive to take up MMA as football, boxing or basket I wouldn't expect there to be many non-blacks in the top.

Danindc,

The betting line for BJPenn and GSP were +160 for BJPenn. Meaning there apparently were quite a few people who thought BJPenn had a 1/3 or better to win.

non de guerre said...

The growth in popularity of the UFC is just another indication of what a culture of mouth-breathing morons we've become. It further validates the premise of Idiocracy. Anybody who can get worked up over the goofy spectacle of "ultimate fighting" would probably enjoy a good bellylaugh from "ASS: The Movie", too.

Anonymous said...

If black athletes had the same incentive to take up MMA as football, boxing or basket I wouldn't expect there to be many non-blacks in the top.

Yet blacks have been displaced in many cases by Russian boxers. Does that mean blacks no longer have the incentive to box, or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

To answer your question Cody, about why there are so many Brazilians in MMA: Brazil is a country of about 190 million people, where MMA is arguably the 2nd most popular sport, behind only soccer(obviously). Also arguably the 2 most popular skill sets in the sport at the moment are Muay Thai Kickboxing(For striking) and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu(For grappling). These are both 2 forms of martial arts that have really only become popular among "Mainstream Public" in the last 6 or 7 years, and most North American fighters you see today have only taken up these disciplines in the last 10 years or so. Many Brazilians on the other hand have been training in these disciplines their entire lives, and thus have obviously become extremely proficient in them.

I doubt we'll ever see a point where there's very few Brazilians in the sport of MMA, but within the next 15-20 years, as more and more North Americans are taking up these disciplines at younger ages, we'll likely see a reduction in the percentage of Brazilian fighters at the top levels of the sport.

Anonymous said...

The gloves are much smaller in MMA, so fighters will get TKO'd or KO'd with fewer punches, and this means they again don't take as many shots to the head as in boxing.

The gloves protect the hands from injury, not the head. The less protection for the hands the fewer brains will be scrambled.

Ross said...

The thing about boxing is that it is specifically designed to give competitors the opportunity to hit each other on the head, by giving the boxers gloves* and separating them when they get too entangled to give and receive punches.

Whilst MMA is too recent to provide definitive conclusions about the long term health of their particpants the early evidence suggests that it is less harmful than boxing:

http://www.jssm.org/combat/1/18/v5combat-18.pdf

* There were almost no recorded boxing deaths in the bare knuckle era, because blows were primarily aimed at the body.

Anonymous said...

When we want your baby boomer opinion we'll ask for it, mmm-kay? People born prior to 1964 lack the necessities to enjoy proper sports such as MMA.

The race issue is getting to be a problem. Same story every fight: hard working honorable white guy versus trash talking lazy brown guy, white guy wins, and the media are infatuated with the latter.

Often brown people experience serious psychological issues subsequent to being thrashed by a white man, see Rampage Jackson and BJ's imminent next arrest.

They *really* don't want white champions in this sport. Whatever. We rule. Fedor, GSP, Lesnar, Mir.

Machida is my favourite human fighter (Fedor is not human). Baby boomer media types get paid $50 every time they call him "elusive", which is Hebrew for "weird mixed race no speaky english and therefore bad PPV". They get $100 for calling white fighters "awkward".

Really, does anyone expect Larry Merchant and the liberal media to embrace UFC? Is this surprising? They're trying to ban hockey fights too despite overwhelming support for fighting among fans.

You have to read this article on MMA from a brown sportscaster:

"On Saturday night, I was assigned to cover my first-ever mixed martial arts fight, as former CFL star Glenn Kulka stepped into the ring for his MMA debut.

For those of you that don't know me, I'm a pretty conservative guy, who isn't into blood sports. I drink San Pellegrino and I cringe every time I get a hangnail."


I just want to interject here that the neo-cons have now officially and successfully re-defined the word "conservative" to mean "faggot".

"
7:44 pm - The first fight of the night is about to start. They actually check the fighters for weapons as they enter the ring. There is a security guy that pats them down and everything. Evidently, this is where the rejects from the TSA Airport screening program end up. Or maybe it's a promotion for them. I'm not quite sure.


8:57 pm - I suddenly realize that I haven't seen any other visible minorities tonight. Now I expect certain spectator events - like curling or a production of Mamma Mia - to be filled with white people in the stands. But I guess I just didn't think it would be like that here. I feel like I did at a Mennonite wedding about 10 years ago, when I was the only minority in the whole place. That night, I ended up hugging a Chinese guy when he walked into the reception hall (I looked foolish when I found out he was with the catering staff).

9:31 pm - I really have to use the bathroom, but I admit - I'm kind of afraid. This is the type of event where I could get jumped or knifed if I go in alone. And that's if I try using the women's washroom. So I've decided to risk a mild bladder infection and wait until I can use a washroom in a safe zone.


10:27 pm - I head back across the river to the safety of Ontario, where MMA fighting has been banned by the provincial government. I can once again sip my San Pellegrino (with a twist of lemon), while wearing a comfortable pair of Dockers."


http://www.sportsnet.ca/mma/blogs/2008/07/27/mendes_mma/

Anonymous said...

The rules of a MMA match are so that it favors wrestlers and others who take the fight to the ground. This is because many of the ways to escape from holds and submissions are illegal such as biting and going for the eyes and ribs. Hence a lot of Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners.

Anonymous said...

Thread needs more Fedor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwVYtFBRtrE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md1KSmqyqok

RobertHume said...

It may be that the head injuries in football could be solved by 1/2-1 cm layer of softer material on the outside of the helmets. Those hard shells deliver quite a jolt when they collide. I think the padding on the inside of the helmets doesn't keep the whole head from being violently jerked by the sudden contact of the shells. So the brain rattles around on the inside.

tommy said...

One thing you can learn from the UFC: the practitioners of the much maligned grappling arts tend to do a lot better than those who can only throw their fists and legs.

Though, I'm curious as to what your take on the sport in general vis-a-vis race--why are there so many Brazillians in the game and why can't Asians compete at the same level?

Because Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is popular in Brazil and apparently works pretty damn well in a street fight. Americans tend to underestimate grappling, but even if you look at fights between American high school kids, you can see how often one-on-one fights end up on the ground.

bigboy said...

"The reason Brazilians do so well probably have a lot to do with widespread popularity of the sport there, and that blacks haven't gotten around to trouncing everyone else yet."

I assume by blacks you mean American blacks. Brazilian Anderson Silva is as black as many African Americans. Further, looking at many of these Brazilians, including the Gracie family (descended from Scots), it's safe to assume that many of them have a drop or two of black blood.

"If black athletes had the same incentive to take up MMA as football, boxing or basket I wouldn't expect there to be many non-blacks in the top."

Maybe. MMA requires a diverse skill set, which doesn't give advantage to whatever physical talents people of West African ancestry possess.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the decline of boxing has less to do with brain-injured fighters and more to do with the corruption and confusion of modern boxing regulatory bodies. How many different associations and titles are there now? Wasn't Tyson the last boxer to hold all three titles? Plus, there are so few well-matched bouts nowadays. It's usually a top-ranked fighter like Mayweather vs. some hopeless nobody who gets knocked around for half a dozen rounds before throwing in the towel. Where's the sport in that?

Constance Garnett said...

UFC is for wimps! Steve, the only sports that matter on a global scale are football and cricket. Must admit, though, that that Rafa Nadal is quite an admirable athlete.

Bill said...

If black athletes had the same incentive to take up MMA as football, boxing or basket I wouldn't expect there to be many non-blacks in the top.

I don't think that's the case. Black advantages are obvious in boxing (longer arms, high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, heavier bones, etc.) but not so in MMA. White people tend to have thicker trunks and slightly shorter limbs, which gives better leverage and more power on the ground. My prediction is that eastern European types will come to dominate.

As for the head injury problem, I think boxing is far worse due to the fact that it's all about pounding people in the head round after round. Hard to believe Max Schmeling lived as long as he did, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

MMA grappling is not hard to understand. Generally you want to be on top. If you're on the bottom, you want to have full guard. The person on top wants to get into a more dominant position by getting out from between the legs of the other fighter. This is called passing the guard.

In a typical guard pass, the fighter on top will get one leg out (half guard), then get the other leg out to transition to side control, then transition to mount by throwing a leg across the body of the other fighter and sitting on the other fighter's torso.

star said...

I have become addicted to MMA. I started watching it on TV, then discovered that Netflix has a huge collection of Pride and UFC fights and have been watching 2-3 MMA DVDs per week. MMA becomes increasingly interesting as the viewer learns exactly how the submissions are done, from which positions, and how difficult they are to execute. The early MMA fights (on DVDs) show how the sport has evolved, with the addition of rules and various standards, such as the elimination of the Gi.

It is possible that MMA fighters will have problems later in life as a result of shots to the head, but that remains to be seen. I have been impressed that most MMA injuries are minor, as compared to football. In football, injuries to the knee and other parts of the leg are frequent and require major medical attention. Other injuries, to other parts of the body, including the head also happen in football and can be serious. In MMA, face cuts are common and not serious. On rare occasions someone has a bone or joint injury that falls into the same category as everyday football injuries.

From the spectator's perspective, MMA is exciting and is a sport that tests speed, strength, skill, endurance, and strategy. Boxing is like watching croquet, after watching MMA.

Anonymous said...

Another reason for the success of Brazilian fighters is that of all the various martial arts that form the basis of MMA fighting, one of the very best is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ. While practiced worldwide today, as its name indicates it was developed in Brazil and remains extremely popular there. One of the founders was Helio Gracie, who died last week at age 95 and whose innumerable children have helped spread and refine it. While it is no longer the case, as it was during the UFC's early years in the 1990's, that BJJ practitioners can succeed even with little knowledge of other fighting arts, it's still a vitally important skill.


One thing to keep in mind is that MMA's success is really the UFC's success. Over the last few years many competing MMA organizations have failed, e.g. the International Fight League, BodogFight, and most recently EliteXC. The UFC acquired the Japan-based (and, allegedly, Yazuka-controlled) Pride organization, which at one point had been the world's largest MMA organization. Today the UFC is bascially unchallenged as the world's leading MMA organization. Its only real competition, known as Affliction, is still in its relatively early stages with an uncertain outlook, and the World Extreme Cagefighting organization, which concentrates on lighter weights, is under the UFC's control. Other MMA organizations, such as King of the Cage and Chuck Norris's World Combat League, operate on much smaller scales.


Peter

SF said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/27/sports/football/27helmets.html

Better helmet designs could make football a lot safer. I hope we are close to the limit on increased player mass.

Thras said...

Sumo would be a great contender for sport of the century -- ritualized combat, easy to follow, not much brain damage.

Unfortunately it's easily gamed by over-feeding athletes with carbohydrates until they weigh 600 lbs.

simon said...

I think the sheer visual dullness of two men lying entwined on a mat is the big problem of UFC and similar. They'd do a lot better visually if they banned fighting-while-prone, the way both boxing and sumo do.

simon said...

Cody:
"why can't Asians compete at the same level?"

That's an easy one - east-Asians have the highest body fat % and lowest muscle mass % of all human races/major population groups. In terms of relative strength, a west-African black man fighting an east-Asian man is like a west-African black man fighting a west-African black woman. Not much of a contest.

Put a 200lb west-African black woman against a 120lb east-Asian man, that'd be a good show. >:)

I expect the Brazillian thing is cultural, though mulattos probably do have an unsually good genetic suite for MMA, physically and mentally.

simon said...

anon:
"If black athletes had the same incentive to take up MMA as football, boxing or basket I wouldn't expect there to be many non-blacks in the top."

It may be that MMA gives more of a role to IQ / analytical cognitive abilities, rather than improvisational ones, in that it requires a higher degree of strategising than boxing. This could help non-blacks and mixed race boxers stay competitive.

Likewise, west African blacks' advantages in body shape and fast twitch muscle mass are overwhelming for sprinting, and very powerful for American football and boxing, but may not be so important for MMA with its emphasis on wrestling.

Anonymous said...

The minute your opponent is woozy, you finish him, usually with non-brain trauma moves like joint locks and chokes. A boxer can't be KO'd until he has a serious concussion.

zylonet said...

Watching the Super Bowl last night, one thing was apparent. From a marketing perspective, the NFL benefits tremendously from the players wearing helmets (irrespective of the safety aspect). I contrast this with the NBA where the character and facial expressions of the players are in full and constant view. Given that players in the NBA have devolved to just above animal status, I find it difficult to watch. There is something unpleasant about watching social deviants run up and down the court. With football, you may have the same social deviant players, but their mugs are normally hidden by helmets, thereby increasing viewability. I might be alone in my opinion, but I find it near impossible to cheer for people whom I deem dangerous and worthless to society.

With regards to MMA, I think it's future is difficult to predict given the changing demographics. I think as the demographics change, the sport will fall into evermore controversy and it will likely become a corrupt casino like boxing.

beowulf said...

Boxers don't wear heavy gloves to protect the target's face but rather to protect the puncher's hand. The very light gloves MMA fighters weear limits how much head trauma they can cause without breaking their hand.

A guy who's getting pummeled (or is in a painful submission hold) can "tap out" at any time by tapping twice on the other guy or the mat. The ref (on his call or the house doctrs) After a tap out, the winner instantly stops and often helps the loser up. The mental discipline necessary for someone to go all out to full stop in an instant is impressive.

In the last decade, the US Military has gone into martial arts training in a big way . As is typical with such things, the Marines went first with its Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (a pet project of then- Commandant James Jones, now Obama's national security advisor), it seems to be more "stand up" fighting than grappling.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_Corps_Martial_Arts_Program

The Army went the other with a ground-fightng based system developed with the help of Rorion Gracie.
http://www.selfdefenseresource.com/combatives/articles/combatives-fm-3-25.150.php

Incidentally, that's why Brazilians are dominant, the Gracies hail from there.

FearlessFreep said...

"I'm rooting for ice hockey to gain from this. It's violent, but doesn't cause nearly as much injuries."

In order to be immensely popular, a professional sport has to be fantasy fuel for a younger generation so that they will grow into adults who are willing to support it financially.

There are still 7-year kids of all races who can identify with an NFL hero who shares their racial/ethnic/cultural background. And then they can go out in the backyard/street and play a game with their buddies, all of whom share similar dreams.

For many obvious reasons, that will never, ever be the case with hockey.

Anonymous said...

In the original Greek Olympic games MMA was known as "Pankration" or "All Powers". It was the most popular of all sports, surpassing boxing, wrestling and running. It was also well known to be safer than boxing.

Anonymous said...

The blacks are not doing well nowadays in the boxing heavyweight, but HW is of course not so good division. UFC is not so much about leg speed and reach than boxing, so it is quite clear that the black people doensn`t have such a signicant advantage on UFC. Former professional wrestler Less Brocknar does well in UFC, because he is big, strong and quite fast. I wouldn`t see him to do that well in professional boxing. Eventually he would get tired in the later rounds. I have read that the the brain damage in boxing comes from multiple punches over a long period of time. It might be that even from the boxing sparring in the long run causes a brain damage. It is better to be KO`d by one punch, than take 15 serious punches in the head. Soccer will triumph in everywhere else in the world, it doens`t cause brain damage:)
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070502093035.htm

-Gc

wongba said...

early UFC matches could be snorefests. they didn't incorporate rounds, so the fighters ended up hugging on the ground for 10-15 minutes. they were also more dangerous b/c u could elbow and knee ppl in the head if iifc.

i like it more now than in the past, but i'm still not a fan.

Anonymous said...

Football is the quintessentially American game. (And not, never, no how baseball, all you George Wills and Field of Dreams fanboys.) If football is less popular in the future, it will only be because of changed demographics. But I actually predict the opposite outcome. Mestizos will watch football even if nobody in their family plays it beyond the local HS/B-team level. Watching big, strong, fast men fight and collide is way more fun than watching a ball bounce around for eighty minutes. BTW, is there ANY sport more unsuited for television than soccer?

The paradox of padding in football is that it alters the technique to produce injuries. Rugby players, for example, don't initiate contact with their heads. I really don't see the equipment or technique changing though. There are plenty of players who took shots to the head who are fine. At worst, the damage is deferred long enough that young men signing up for football are not going to give it any thought.

--Senor Doug

Anonymous said...

One of your weaker theories, Steve. No one cares about brain injuries. We just want to watch Americans play sports. Foreign participation killed boxing, major league baseball, and the NBA in terms of popularity in the US.

Anonymous said...

Longtime UFC fan here...

Sometimes culture truly is the explanation, or at least the greater part of the explanation. The reason there are so many Brazilians in the sport is that martial arts have been big in Brazil for many years. The type of submission-grappling game studied by most fighters (not only in Brazil) is known as BJJ or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Essentially what happened was that some Brazilian guys took the Japanese martial art of jiu-jitsu and improved upon it until that they could whip the best Japanese guys. (There are amusing stories about what a big surprise it was for the Japanese, to have the Brazilians come over and kick their asses.) After the superiority of BJJ was demonstrated, of course a lot of fighters wanted to learn it, and initially that could only be done in training programs in Brazil.

As for Asian fighters, the explanation is a little different. Before the UFC the big MMA organization was Pride, which was headquartered in Japan. Its fighters were mostly Japanese, with a substantial number of Brazilians as well as a few Americans, Russians, and fighters from other Asian countries. Pride collapsed and the UFC bought it out a couple of years ago. Many of the Brazilians, Americans, and Russians who fought for Pride have now come over to the UFC; not so many Japanese or other Asians, although a few have made the transition. I suspect the main reason is that Brazilians are better able to deal with the culture shock of coming to the US. And Japanese find it famously difficult to learn English.

If you wanted to look at racial/ethnic differences among MMA fighters, you could start with this: In Pride, the Japanese were rarely champions in the higher weight classes - most of those champs were Russians, Americans, and Brazilians.

Anonymous said...

"If black athletes had the same incentive to take up MMA as football, boxing or basket I wouldn't expect there to be many non-blacks in the top."

There are many blacks in MMA, including one of the best - Anderson Silva. But, in general, whites tend to dominate (2 of the top 3 fighters in the world are white).

Whites also dominate boxing, where 17 of the 20 belts from middleweight to heavyweight are held by whites.

If we look at MMA in 10-15 years it will probably be a bit whiter at the top levels as Eastern Europeans start breaking into the sport.

Anyone who follows boxing knows what happened as soon as they started competing professionally.

testing99 said...

Steve, outside your domain of expertise, you have gaps, this is one of them.

First, Boxing declined not because of what people thought of old boxers crippled with head injuries, but because the fighters on offer for most of the 1990s were either dull and unexciting, or total thugs who were at the same time pathetic (Tyson) or various one-shot guys like Douglass. There was not much skill, even less heart, and not much determination either. Matches were as fixed as Professional Wrestling but hardly as entertaining.

Enter MMA: which offered real competition, and required both mastery of three difficult arts (boxing, wrestling, and jujitsu) and demanded real competition. MMA was represented by mostly White, professional, sober, and intense athletes like Randy Couture, who competed at a high level into his forties. Demonstrating like Kurt Warner that skill just as much as raw athletic talent matters in MMA.

Unlike Boxing, MMA fighters fight with very thin gloves, nearly bare hands. Anyone who has fought this way (sorry Steve, you obviously have not fought much, it shows) knows that bare hands against hard skulls runs the risk of broken hands. Boxers because of the gloves can hit harder. There are far less concussions in the MMA vs. Boxing, for this reason. Also, head hunting can leave you open to a takedown, unlike boxing.

Hitting a guy, when you are mounted, you are using your upper body, as opposed to standing and using your whole body. Both hurt, the latter hurts a lot MORE.

As for the racial aspects of MMA, well it's obvious. The money is still not great, though the stars are well known to Working Class White guys, particularly Military, who follow them intensely. Meanwhile, you require years of training, which is expensive, particularly the jujitsu which does not have the extensive neighborhood network of gyms and coaches ala Boxing (think Kronk Gym) or High School and College "free" coaching (wrestling). Then there is the requirement to link the techniques together fluidly, which requires dedication and discipline, above and beyond pure conditioning.

It is highly unlikely that Blacks will ever dominate MMA, for those factors. Even if the money became quite good, and it probably will, the requirement to train for years to link the disciplines together to win means only a few Blacks will be prominent in the sport.

Couture dominated guys younger than him by a decade for years, it takes tremendous skill, technical skill, under huge pressure to win. Simple athleticism is not enough and the sport demands pain endurance and mental discipline in suffering and well, endurance as well as explosive power.

Black guys like Kimbo Slice or Rampage Jackson have done poorly, because sheer power, speed, and explosiveness won't allow them to dominate -- their opponents sit back, tie them up in grappling (which they are not good at), hurt them, and wait until the superior conditioning gives them advantages in later rounds. I think either Slice or Jackson simply gave up in one fight.

As for Asians, they have plenty tough sports where they dominate, including explosive Sumo and forms of Karate (that preclude hitting the head or groin) that are plenty tough. However, MMA is in a "sweet spot" for martial arts. It requires getting hit, twisted, joint locked, and half-strangled to seem an attractive option, but enough money to afford constant training and coaching. That's lower middle class to middle class. Japanese if they are going to do things like that stick to their own traditional sports (Gracie Jujitsu is the result of Japanese emigres to Brazil). Most of the rest of Asia follows that pattern, or sticks to deadly weapon arts that give advantage in street fights.

Beastmaster said...

The problem with MMA is that the skillset is too broad. We see upset after upset where the better guy gets clipped on the chin in the first minute. Luck becomes a much greater factor when you have to pay attention to punches and kicks AND takedowns, which is impossible to do well at the same time. I think the sport of the future will be in virtual reality.

Anonymous said...

Longtime UFC fan again...

Er, testing99? Are you sure you're really a fan of MMA?

Rampage Jackson is one of the best fighters in the world. He'll probably be light heavyweight champion again within the year.

Kimbo Slice is a complete joke - a streetfighter who has hardly studied MMA. He has never fought in the UFC and never will; he was KOed a few months back by a UFC reject.

I'm pretty sure that neither Rampage nor Kimbo has ever quit in the middle of a fight.

Anderson Silva is indeed very black Brazilian, the current middleweight champ and consensus top-three pound-for-pound.

The current light heavyweight champion is a black American, Rashad Evans. I don't think he'll be champion for long, but he's certainly a very good fighter.

Evans started out as a college wrestler and won a National Junior College championship. Rampage is not as good a wrestler as Evans, but he's still very good; he was the author of the most famous KO body slam in MMA history.

If you want to make generalizations about black fighters, you need to be better informed.

jody said...

boxing is bigger and more popular than ever. the US sports media barely covers boxing anymore though, because white boxers have beaten all the black americans. ESPN and SI don't want people to see white guys knocking out black guys. it doesn't fit the script. this gives americans the illusion that all boxing disappeared off the face of the earth about 10 years ago.

it's hilarious to hear the excuses about how every black human on the face of the earth plays in the NFL now instead. how? football is played seriously only in one nation. how can it be taking every good black athlete out of the global population of nearly 1 billion? the average black human is unbelievably poor, professional boxing is the perfect sport for them. it costs almost nothing to learn how to box, and requires little equipment.

200 pound black americans began drifting away from boxing and towards the NFL after the 1987 NFL season. does anybody here even realize than in 1987, only a single NFL player was making 1 million dollars a year? this mind boggling statistic is perhaps the SINGLE most important statistic in american sports. before 1987, literally dozens of boxers made more money in a year than the highest paid NFL hero. that's simply amazing when compared to the salaries only 20 years later, in which every man picked in the first round of just the DRAFT makes more money than than the best player in the entire league in 1987. the NFL actually grossly overpays rookies now. before profit sharing, football players got little pay, while boxers, who always had profit sharing, got a lot. after profit sharing, football pay exploded past boxing.

this is the reason there is no 2009 version of mike tyson. there, one of the major questions of american sports, i've answered it with simple math. of course, whether holyfield or tyson could get around vitali klitschko is another question. i would say vitali would almost certainly punish holyfield into a TKO.

at least basketball is a major international sport, but, it's still not taking any good black athletes out of boxing. there is not much athletic crossover there. basketball players do not have an aptitude for boxing. as with football players, boxers made far more money than basketball players for decades, dramatically more. every major boxer during the NBA's bird-magic era made far more money than any basketball player, so why was the best boxer a 5-10 guy instead of a 6-8 guy? because basketball players can't box, that's why.

blacks worldwide are more interested in boxing now than ever. multiple black boxers from around the world have held major belts in the last 10 years while making millions of dollars. they're just getting beat by white boxers.

nobody can tell me that even black AMERICANS who are not big enough to play football, have lost interest in boxing. they're more interested in boxing than ever. jermain taylor, paul williams, floyd mayweather, and shane mosley are among the best small boxers in the 150 to 160 pound range. shane mosley just had a boxing match in staples center where 20,000 people showed up.

jody said...

also, wrestlers are better athletes than boxers. several NCAA wrestlers have gone to the NFL. stephen neal, an NCAA wrestling champion and guard for the new england patriots, has several superbowl rings. carlton hasselrig, another NCAA champion, was a pro-bowl guard for the pittsburgh steelers.

brock lesnar, the guy that stephen neal defeated in the 1999 NCAA championship, won the 2000 NCAA championship. he never played a single snap of NCAA football, yet tried out for the vikings and was the last player cut before the 53 man roster. during pre-season he managed to sack trent green, back when green played for the chiefs. because lesnar was the most athletic player on the team, with better combine numbers than any other vikings lineman, he was told to play in NFL europe for just one year to learn how to play defensive end, and was offered a spot on the vikings the year after that. he declined, and went to UFC, where he is now the 265 champion.

no boxers that i can think of have made that transition.

tom zbikowski, a white safety with the baltimore ravens, is the only NFL player that i'm familiar with who has also been a professional boxer, but that was a diversion from NCAA football.

Anonymous said...

"Black guys like Kimbo Slice or Rampage Jackson have done poorly, because sheer power, speed, and explosiveness won't allow them to dominate"

You're certainly correct about Kimbo, but you couldn't be farther off the mark on Rampage.
I'm curious to know how you can say Rampage has "Done poorly", despite the fact that he's 29-7 in his career, is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and is 1 win away(Against Jardine at UFC 96) from another title shot. He's also defeated many of the best in the sport: Chuck Liddell(Twice), Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Ricardo Arona, ect.

The reason why Rampage has been so effective in his Mixed Martial Arts career is because while he may come off as a dumb, untrained street thug, he's actually a very technically sound boxer who possesses vicious knock out power, freakish physical strength, and he's also a very skilled wrestler who is excellent at avoiding submissions on the ground. Also it doesn't hurt when you possess a granite chin, as Rampage does.

Also going into his fight vs Forrest Griffin at UFC 87, he was regarded as the #1 Light Heavyweight fighter in the world in virtually every MMA Ranking service out there, and is still ranked in the Top 5 in just about every ranking service.

"Done poorly"...

Hardly...

Anonymous said...

A couple of prior comments have touched upon the differing socioeconomic levels of typical MMA fighters and boxers. Suffice to say that listening to pre- and post-fight interviews of the two types of combatants will quickly erase any doubts as to the existence and magnitude of these differences. Despite being a big fan of boxing (as well as of MMA), I find it almost painful to listen to boxers being interviewed, so inarticulate are so many of them. And I don't necessarily mean old retired boxers, but young up-and-comers too. Nor is this a racial thing, either. There are some exceptions, but by and large you're not dealing with the sharpest tools in the shed.

MMA fighters, in contrast, tend to be FAR better spoken and more "with it" in a manner that's not easy to describe but very easy to recognize. The high cost of MMA training and the very modest financial rewards for all except a few top fighters may make the sport somewhat snobbish, but the end result is a much higher caliber of person, mentally speaking.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Anderson Silva is 100% black, but what's funny is how different his demeanor is from the typical black American. Whenever he's interviewed, he seems like the friendliest guy in the world, grinning from ear-to-ear. Despite an arguably worse legacy of slavery in Brazil, Brazilian blacks don't seem to have nearly as much surliness about them as the average African American.

One technical weakness of MMA fighters is that most are bad kickers. That's simply because it takes years of training to be able to confidently and effectively kick someone to the head or body without worrying about getting knocked down while you're standing on one leg. It's too bad, because a skilled kicker could do some serious damage to a typical MMA fighter, before his opponent ever got close enough to take him to the ground.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: I suspect the decline of boxing has less to do with brain-injured fighters and more to do with the corruption and confusion of modern boxing regulatory bodies.

I don't know if this comment will pass censorship muster [it feels like the sort of thing that Steve will censor], but here goes.

I think that the decline in boxing is because of the collapse in the black family.

Without male role-models, teenaged boys have a really shocking tendency to grow up to be homosexuals [I think that the rise in homosexuality in a culture lags by about ten or fifteen years the rise in illegitimacy - just long enough for the little effeminate boys to grow up to be homosexuals], and even if they don't grow up to be homosexuals, by the age of 15 or so, they're so obese from lack of exercise that the act of waddling from the front door of McDonald's out to their car in the parking lot is enough to give them a coronary.

On the SWPL side of things - do I even need to comment on why the few children they bother to make aren't allowed to take up boxing? Heck, their boys aren't even allowed to play football - instead, they're forced to play girls' sports, like soccer.

PS: Let me close with a comment which is feeling like it might draw the whole post into censorship purgatory: I have met very, very few adult black males in my life whom I didn't suspect of being at least bisexual.

[Sorry, Truth, if the, ah, "truth" hurts, dude.]

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Brazil and MMA, for a while around a year ago there was this semi-underground MMA organization called Rio Heroes that had fights available for viewing via streaming video. The fights harkened back to the good/bad old days of the early UFC, when there were almost no rules and the matches deserved the moniker "no holds barred" fighting. They even had a man vs. woman fight ... the woman won, though it's not clear if the man was really giving 100%. Unfortunately, or fortunately as you prefer, the police in Rio shut down the organization, which probably means that the promoters didn't pay enough bribes.

Peter

Anonymous said...

"Without male role-models, teenaged boys have a really shocking tendency to grow up to be homosexuals [I think that the rise in homosexuality in a culture lags by about ten or fifteen years the rise in illegitimacy - just long enough for the little effeminate boys to grow up to be homosexuals]"

Maybe something to that:

http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2009/01/bias_behind_hig.php

Danindc said...

I also agree with non de guerre... the popularity of the UFC is reason # 3,285 that the culture is going to hell in a handbasket... most of the fans are porno obsessed scumbags who clearly need more religion in their life.

That said, it's really fun to watch from a distance... and I gladly pay my 45$ ppv to the mobbed up dudes that run the show... Fertitta bros or something like that

Rampage and Kimbo don't belong in the same sentence...used to love Rampage util he went on a, well rampage and almost killed fifty people in his monster truck....how is he not in jail?

BJ Penn was only plus 160 - wow I missed that bet- he stood no chance- I thought that was obvious by past performance- GSP beat Penn 2 years ago and he has gotten 5x better while penn has stagnated as a fighter- plus look at the two guys- like Steve said... I don't see GSP losing in the next 2 years... as far a blacks not doing as well I think that may change- on the undercard there was this 21 yr old Jon Jones or something would looked unbelievale in destroying Stephen bonnar- just one example but interesting

jody said...

all of the best kickboxers in the world are already in MMA. every active K-1 champion has had multiple fights under MMA rules, and they all get taken to the ground. kicking is definitely not a weakness in MMA.

kicking is, in fact, the best way to get taken to the ground by a good wrestler. when fighting wrestlers, kickboxers switch to boxing only, so they can keep both feet on the ground.

lots of wrestlers getting into the sport today only learning boxing now, and skip kickboxing. brock lesnar's fists are nuclear weapons. he has knocked down every single one of his opponents by punching them in the face. he would crush, absolutely maul every guy who was ever a K-1 champion. he would crumble ernesto hoost, who was knocked clean off his feet with punches by bob sapp, an NFL lineman who never really made it in football.

kicking gets you put down fast against wrestling and judo.

Anonymous said...

Marine Corps Martial Arts Program [...] seems to be more "stand up" fighting than grappling. [...] The Army went the other with a ground-fightng based system developed with the help of Rorion Gracie.

While grappling is great for one-on-one, it is fatal to you if you're fighting more than one person at a time. In combat it might be more useful to stay on your feet at all times. The kind of martial art I studied as a teenager didn't get into grappling much because it assumed you'd often be fighting more than one person at once. It was always about striking hard and fast (and fighting "dirty") to disable your opponents and then getting the hell out of there. What little grappling we learned was mostly about how to break out of holds.

Truth said...

Lucius, you are a very strange young man.

tommy said...

The Brazilians are prevalent in MMA because they know how to grapple. That is all there is to it. If you look at the UFC, there are a number of prominent white, American-born fighters who also employ Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And if it isn't BJJ, then it's another grappling martial art: Sambo, freestyle wrestling, shoot fighting, Greco-Roman wrestling, catch wrestling, etc.

Pete said...

I'm amazed that on Steve Sailer's blog, of all blogs, a thread about combat sports that doesn't mention the obvious demographic shift in *favor* of boxing.

Everyone's talking about boxing as if prominent boxers have to be either black or white.

Look at the top 10 pound for pound fighters in the world... you'll see names like Juan Manuel Marquez (Mexican), Israel Vazquez (Mexican), Miguel Cotto (Puerto Rican), Rafael Marquez (Juan's brother), Antonio Margarito (Mexican), Ivan Calderon (Puerto Rican).

Boxing is hugely popular among Spanish-speakers, even if it has declined in popularity among whites and to a certain extent blacks. Therefore expect boxing to become more popular, but not in the mainstream. (Top level fights, by the way, still make ridiculous amounts of money, so the decline of boxing has been a bit of an overblown storyline).

MMA has been well-run and the tehcnical skill of its competitors is admirable; however the ground game is completely unwatchable.

The fact that you can get seriously hurt in boxing is not a new concept and has nothing to do with boxing's alleged decline, it's part of the drama of the sport. how combatants deal with this risk defines them as fighters. Mike Tyson was exposed as a coward when he wilted mentally against Holyfield who could take his best punch. The public tends to admire fighters who like getting hit, although they tend not to make it to the top of the sport.

Anonymous said...

They actually check the fighters for weapons as they enter the ring. There is a security guy that pats them down and everything.

Not quite. An official checks the fighters to see if they've been smeared with Vaseline or another oily substance, which would give them an unfair advantage during grappling.

As a matter of fact, there are allegations that Georges St. Pierre's trainers put some sort of substance on him between rounds during last weekend's fight with B.J. Penn. So far Penn hasn't filed a protest with the Nevada State Athletics Commission, though he has a few more days to decide.

Peter

tommy said...

While grappling is great for one-on-one, it is fatal to you if you're fighting more than one person at a time.

Dude, don't kid yourself. Unless you're very damn good and your opponents are lousy, striking against multiple opponents is also not advised. Fighting multiple opponents at once is a losing proposition. This is a lesson that prison gangs have learned well. Escape and evasion is your best option when outnumbered.

Anonymous said...

Escape and evasion is your best option when outnumbered.

Of course it is. And that's exactly what they emphasized in training. But the subject was hand-to-hand training in the military, and in that case, I'm not sure grappling would be of much use in actual combat situations, where you will probably be facing more than one person. Though I suppose grappling might be very useful in some of the non-combat policing activities our military is increasingly engaging in: subduing unruly people during searches, etc.

tommy said...

But the subject was hand-to-hand training in the military, and in that case, I'm not sure grappling would be of much use in actual combat situations, where you will probably be facing more than one person.

The odds that you will be facing more than a single unarmed attacker in a modern war are slim. The odds that you will face multiple attackers and, at no point in the fight, be taken to the ground are also slim. Fighting multiple opponents doesn't improve your chances of remaining on your feet during an attack--just the opposite.

rast said...

So, that's my sense of the future: the favorite spectator sports will remain some form of ritualized combat, but with less brain trauma.

OBVIOUS: "Ow, My Balls!" ?

Anonymous said...

The odds that you will be facing more than a single unarmed attacker in a modern war are slim.

I'm not sure why that would be so. In any case, your chances against multiple attackers are slim, but not letting the fight go to the ground remains your only hope of getting out of the situation alive. Of course, you'd need to know enough grappling technique to prevent getting pulled into a "ground game", but the emphasis should be on "stick and move" and getting the hell out, shouldn't it?

tommy, what's your best guess on why the Marines decided to go with "stand up" fighting instead of grappling?

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

A lot of UFC's rise is attributable to the fact that they didn't initially see boxing as their primary competition, but professional wrestling. They tapped into the market of 18-35 males who lost interest in the WWE.

By airing its best fights on basic cable (even several weeks after they occurred), UFC has been able to cultivate stars in a way that boxing doesn't anymore, at least among non-Latinos.

If the pay for boxing and UFC ever gets to any kind of parity, look for some boxers to cross over and make some quick bucks. Most UFC fighters' striking skills are pretty pathetic compared to pro boxers.

What's more likely is that UFC will follow WWE into the wilderness of faded fads. It'll plateau back to a core audience, but the tatooed, Red Bull-soaked morons who drive prole tastemaking will find something else to blow their girlfriends' lap dancing tips on.

milam command said...

You give the general public too much credit. To most, the prospect of brain damage is a feature, not a bug. I think the real reason boxing is less popular today is that a lot of boring white dudes are champions.

tommy said...

I'm not sure why that would be so.

Because the more attackers you face, the higher the likelihood that at least one of them will actually be armed.

tommy, what's your best guess on why the Marines decided to go with "stand up" fighting instead of grappling?

On the small things that make little difference in overall combat effectiveness--such as hand-to-hand combat styles in an era of assault rifles and RPGs--the Marines and Army often do things differently just to be different. I suspect that both branches support martial arts for their benefits to fitness and morale more than anything else.

I don't know enough about the evolution of Army and Marines hand-to-hand programs to answer your question with certainty though.

Argent Paladin said...

I guess I have a very different MMA perspective than most on the board since I entered the world via PRIDE fights. I often thought of Steve because there was an interesting mix of races in PRIDE. What was even more interesting was the different looks and strategies by race. The black competitors were monsters and freaks, like Rampage. All muscle and huge. The Asians were not muscled or large but had a very high threshold for pain (more than once an arm or leg would break rather than tapping out) and great flexibility, both of which are valuable for grappling. Also, the Asians tended to have more precise technique.
The white competitors (I include the Brazilians here) were in between, stronger than the Asains, more patient and disciplined than the blacks. It fit the stereotypes very well. Some fights that initially looked once sided http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg57s1fQCLM and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfUEkt6uM8A&feature=related based on physique turn out to be surprises.

Fellow Prole Loather said...

"What's more likely is that UFC will follow WWE into the wilderness of faded fads. It'll plateau back to a core audience, but the tatooed, Red Bull-soaked morons who drive prole tastemaking will find something else to blow their girlfriends' lap dancing tips on."

Great line, man.

Svigor said...

I might be alone in my opinion

No, football was my last holdout (not just in terms of sports, but teevee in general) for this reason.

The dredlocks helped kill it off I think.

Svigor said...

the requirement to train for years to link the disciplines together

The link stuff, if not just in your head, is not necessary. MMA training is MMA training as far as I know. If it isn't, it should be. You're talking more about history (the inevitable sorting process during the transition from theory to application) than present reality.

Svigor said...

I think either Slice or Jackson simply gave up in one fight.

Blacks have a real deficit here, in my experience. I was a scrawny little kid compared to the black kids in my neighborhood (gentrification project with few white kids and many black kids), and I always beat them wrestling. Then I'd take a trip to the suburbs and get my ass handed to me by a kid my size. Maybe part of it was cultural; when I wrestled, I wanted to win, and I had a dad around to give me tons of practice.

jody said...

again, boxing is more popular than ever, and white boxers are dominating boxing.

boxing is not in decline. there are more boxers than ever, more big boxing events than ever, more big paydays than ever. the american all-time pay per view record was just recently set by a black american, floyd mayweather.

the united states is not the world. hard to understand for some i know. but there are, in fact, almost 7 billion humans now and most of them are poor. boxing is the perfect sport for them, it is cheap to learn, requires little equipment, and anybody can try. there are more boxers worldwide in 2009 than at any time in the past, and certainly more than in 1979, the year that ESPN seems to prefer as their reference for boxing.

due to the american-centric perspective here, people do not realize that europe has twice as many people as the united states. yet it does, and due to the fall of the soviet union, white people are more interested in boxing than ever. more white people are watching boxing right now, in 2009, than have ever watched at any time before. which audience is bigger: 200 million euro-americans or 600 million euros?

it is ESPN that creates the illusion that boxing went away. ESPN DOES NOT LIKE IT WHEN WHITE GUYS BEAT BLACK GUYS AT BOXING. they prefer to stay in a cave in 1979 and show grainy video from caesar's palace of two small black american heavyweights slugging it out.

this is their definition of the pinnacle of boxing. "Sports get better the further back in time you go!" it's completely stupid, but how else are they going to sell their current agenda of black american supremacy? either they stay in a cave in las vegas in 1979 or they admit that black americans don't automatically win every time against an international field.

this agenda has driven ESPN to the point of convincing americans that golf is a major sport due strictly to one single american golfer who is not even half black. in reality, golf is a totally minor sport that almost nobody plays, and few americans, let alone the rest of the world, even pay attention to PGA golf when ESPN's favorite golfer is not golfing.

oh, and plenty of boxers could make more money in UFC than they do in boxing. but they don't, because they know they would lose. steve cunningham, the best black american cruiser, would make far more cash as the UFC 205 champion than he did as the IBF 200 champion. he never made $250,000 for one fight in boxing, let alone the $1 million he could make in UFC.

Svigor said...

While grappling is great for one-on-one, it is fatal to you if you're fighting more than one person at a time. In combat it might be more useful to stay on your feet at all times.

If I had to guess, I'd say the Marines went for stand-up MA because they're a combat organization; it's easier to get to and use your rifle/sidearm/knife on your feet than it is on your back.

This is why the term MA is ironic in the common sense; a real "martial artist" wants to get to a weapon ASAP, making what we call "MA" simply a transition phase (one to be abandoned ASAP in combat).

Maybe the Army wants groundfighting for other reasons, like esprit de corps.

Truth said...

Yeah, that MMA is a
safe sport right up there with Curling.

Svigor said...

a real "martial artist" wants to get to a weapon ASAP

Apropos of nothing, there's a perfect illustration of the textbook weapon progression in a scene from Under Siege, where a mercenary goes through a classic checkdown process (disarmed of his SMG his pistol comes out, disarmed of that his knife comes out, and then of course he dies at the hands of the oleaginous Segal).

devil dog said...

If I had to guess, I'd say the Marines went for stand-up MA because they're a combat organization; it's easier to get to and use your rifle/sidearm/knife on your feet than it is on your back.

From my memories at Parris Island, I recall learning a series of techinques that all ended with my opponent on the ground and a simulated boot stomp to the head. The intent was to kill, not to subdue. I imagine the purpose of the training was more psychological than anything else. Grappling is gay, so it doesn't surprise me that's how the army trains.

Anonymous said...

To me, it's like watching wrestling in the Olympics: two guys suddenly collapse in a heap and squirm about, with the announcers going so wild with excitement that they leave out all the antecedents for their pronouns, as if Henry James had written pulp novels: "Did you see what he did to him?" "Yeah, he's really taken control." Look at the advantage he has over him!" And I keep wondering "Who? Whom? What just happened?"


A bit how I felt watching hockey for the first time. "He scored? Where's the freakin puck?"

Lucius Vorenus said...

Svigor: Maybe part of it was cultural; when I wrestled, I wanted to win, and I had a dad around to give me tons of practice.

That was my point above - no more than 30% of all black children are born into a household which includes their fathers, and if you figure divorce into the equation thereafter, only a tiny handful of all black boys live in the same house as their fathers, from birth to, say, the age of 15.

PS: Compare Steve's new piece on Sideline Dads.

PPS: And there is nothing new under the sun - what you are seeing here is precisely what Leopold Mozart did with Wolfgang Amadeus and what Johann van Beethoven did with Ludwig [and, more recently, what Adah Tasker Tukey did with John and what Florence Greig Gould did with Glenn, etc etc etc].

tommy said...

Svigor,

If I had to guess, I'd say the Marines went for stand-up MA because they're a combat organization; it's easier to get to and use your rifle/sidearm/knife on your feet than it is on your back.

Maybe, but why would you resort to your fists if you had a rifle, pistol, or knife readily available? You might argue that you could be taken by surprise, but if you are taken by surprise, there is a strong possibility you won't be on your feet anyway.

The purpose of grappling is to put the other guy on his back. If someone manages to get a kickboxer to the ground, he's going to have a harder time getting to any weapon he has about his person than a guy who can wrestle.


Devil Dog,

Grappling is gay, so it doesn't surprise me that's how the army trains.

LOL. This attitude reminds me of Marines I've known who like to claim that boot camp at Parris Island is every bit as difficult as Army Ranger training. Silly Marines!

Anonymous said...

I'd guess that the Army expects most of its hand-to-hand combat to be against a single attacker and used largely to subdue rather than kill (the Army does a lot of policing nowadays), while the Marines obviously think that most of its hand-to-hand will be against multiple attackers and used to kill, not subdue.

Or maybe the Marines just think grappling is too homoerotic.

rob said...

Kicking is at an artifical disadvantage in fighting sports. In a real fight, you kick mainly to shins, knees, and groin. All of those(except maybe shins) are banned in any sport.

Svigor said...

Maybe, but why would you resort to your fists if you had a rifle, pistol, or knife readily available?

You wouldn't. I'm saying the only real point to UMA in modern combat is to get your weapon back. If you have to resign yourself to UMA, you're pretty much fucked (captured or dead) from an institutional planning POV.

Just common sense here so someone tell me if I'm wrong.

tommy said...

You wouldn't. I'm saying the only real point to UMA in modern combat is to get your weapon back.

If you had to get your weapon back from an opponent, would you swing your fist at the guy and hope you had landed a decent punch or would you tackle him? To my mind, this is a no-brainer.

Svigor said...

If you had to get your weapon back from an opponent, would you swing your fist at the guy and hope you had landed a decent punch or would you tackle him? To my mind, this is a no-brainer.

I'd kiss my ass goodbye, regardless of what strategy I pursued in a vain hope of survival.