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In Sports Commentary

Dave Begel gave MMA a try and came away convinced that it wasn't for him.

First hand look at MMA fails to sway Begel


OK, so I finally went.

For those who have been keeping score, I've been writing about how horrible I think Mixed Martial Arts is for several months. The guys (and they seem to be all guys) who have written in, have all complained that I've never even seen a match. They invited me to this one and I took them up.

The very nice guy who promoted the thing made every effort to, as he put it, "change my mind."

No such luck, although there was one minor change. Instead of not liking MMA because of the brutality and violence, I also now don't like it because it's about as boring as a sport could possibly be. I mean excruciating.

Let me start by saying I've been called lots of things in my life, some true, some not so true, but one thing I've never been called is a wimp.

I've had more than my share of fights. I've shed blood and drawn blood. I've been held up twice at gunpoint, and once I fought the guy with the gun. And won. I've seen dead bodies and all sorts of mayhem, and my stomach has never once turned an ounce.

I may be older now. I may be more civilized. I may be much more gentle. But down deep I'm still a tough guy. Violence has not been a stranger in my life.

But even I found myself shaking my head over the awful mixture at State Fair Park Saturday night. It was a mixture of tackiness, shadiness, blood lust, vulgarity, sissykicks, beer and boredom known as the North American Fighting Championship of Mixed Martial Arts.

Let me start with the four girls just a few seats away. More butt crack in those seats than you'd see at an average plumbers' convention. And midway through one of the bouts, one of them stood, took a deep swig of beer, and shouted, "let's see some f***ing blood." Her three buddies all stood and gave her high fives.

I expected incredible mayhem with ringside doctors rushing in to apply pressure bandages to the hemorrhage from one of the fighters. Instead what I got, and what the fans got, was minute after minute after minute of one guy laying on top of another guy trying to find a way to choke him to death. Not much movement. Not much cheering. Not much anything.

And these guys didn't even seem particularly tough. I thought back to my days as a playground fighter and how when some guys got knocked down they'd lay on their back and kick their legs at their opponent. We called it sissykicking. Well, there were lots of sissykicking at State Fair Park Saturday night. It's apparently a recognized strategy in the game.

Tough guys, indeed. I'd say your average offensive tackle who's finished playing 60 minutes of football is about a thousand times tougher than any of these sissykickers.

I've got to talk about the atmosphere, as well. Some people say this group of 30-somethings is the next generation to take control. If this is them, get me out of here now.

A number of years ago I was playing a gig on Downer Avenue when the crowd got attacked by a group of skinheads. I hadn't seen a skinhead since then and wondered where they had gone. Now I know.

And the women. There was more big hair, too tight jeans (remember the butt crack comment?), cheap flashy jewelry, sprayed on tan and gum chewing than you'd find at your average Las Vegas free breakfast buffet. This was a Wayne Newton and Liberace concert without the music.

The crowd was mainly concerned with talking with each other and the folks three rows back. Everybody kept shouting at everybody else. The VIP tables (one of which I sat at) were dotted with guys who had spent one too many fights in the ring and either their girlfriends, wives or mothers. There were not many children present, thank God.

In the infrequent moments when one gladiator managed to deliver 200 quick blows to the head of his helpless opponent (thereby giving new meaning to the phrase "hitting a guy when he's down) the crowd stirred to cheer a little bit. This was when our four girls called for "some f***ing blood." But before too long it was one guy laying on another guy again.

I will say this. I don't think it's nearly as harmful as I did. It's a lot of gimmick and show and flash and not much substance. I still think the idea of hitting a guy when he's down smacks of being a brutal bully. And I don't like bullies. But if people want to pay good money to see this stuff, it's a free country.

But I've done it. I've gone. I saw a fight. And I'm done. I'm not going to argue about MMA or discuss it or even write about it anymore.

It's just not worth it.

Talkbacks

MrHuber | April 6, 2010 at 1:18 p.m. (report)

At this point, from what I've seen, I consider the MMA to be more of a anger management fad and not a sport. Sure, it's popular, but so are fantasy sports, and most don't even consider them an official sport.

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rbunz | April 6, 2010 at 12:44 p.m. (report)

Thank you for writing this. I'm very sick of this sport myself and am at a loss why people actually host parties to watch this sort of thing on tv. I'm not against violence, not that I think it's the best entertainment, but hey, people are violent, it is what it is. But as you pointed out, this is barely even violence. It's two sweaty meatheads hugging each other until they get tired. I really think a lot of people into this sport simply have subconscious issues with their sexuality. As far as the crowd goes, I agree you may see similar people at other events around the area, but this sort of "entertainment" only propagates the notion that this is normal. Poor uneducated people demanding blood for entertainment is becoming the new standard in this country, and as much as I love the USA... It really does make me want to get the hell out of here. Tragic. This is up there with reality tv and celebrity news as being the main factors contributing to the dumbing down of America. Say what you want jocktards, it's because of things like this that China and the rest of the world are going to kick our asses.

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timpan | April 6, 2010 at 12:15 p.m. (report)

First, Dave thank you for finally checking out an event. Again, I guess I didn't expect you to become a fan. I'm not a fan of baseball or golf. Those don't tickle my fancy. Simply said not every sport fan needs to be a fan of every sport. I will agree that the crowds can tend to be a little less than classy, but like someone else said maybe you need to visit other Milwaukee events. Second, Scott, as always, thanks for being an ambassador to the sport. Finally, mma doesn't really need anymore fans, but it will continue to grow. I'm happy to have seen and participated in the evolution of the sport. I dislike the Jersey-Shore-musclebound-Ed-Hardy-idiots that stereotype the sport, but you have to take the bad with the good.

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joe | April 6, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. (report)

I would have to agree with Dave whole heartedly on this issue. While the participants attain a level of "high end Boxing, Kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling skill and elite level conditioning", they certainly don't put it to good use. It seems that they choose the easiest, but not the most effective way, to produce the result they are looking for... in a cheap or unsportsmanlike way, if need be. But that seems to be perfectly acceptable to this sort of crowd. If they are highly trained athletes, it would be similar to spending years at a culinary school and acquring a mastery of cooking skills... then becoming a cook at George Webb. But hey, if you're comfortable with having low expectations in life and prefer blindly swinging a blunt object over a precision strike with a finely tuned weapon, more power to you and your neighbors in the trailer park.

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milROCKeeguy | April 6, 2010 at 10:54 a.m. (report)

"And the women. There was more big hair, too tight jeans (remember the butt crack comment?), cheap flashy jewelry, sprayed on tan and gum chewing than you'd find at your average Las Vegas free breakfast buffet. This was a Wayne Newton and Liberace concert without the music. " Ok Dave, I do applaud you for finally going to an event. And if you're going to sit there and bash the crowd, guess, what, you just described the same crowd you will see at State Fair, Waukesha County Fair, Summerfest, 7 Mile Fair, Admiral's games, Brewer's games, Summerfest, probably the new Verge Music Festival, Bastille Days, Jazz in the Park, the Domes, and even Brady Street Days. The only difference is some of these events have music. I'm shocked you were surprised by this. Don't let these kind of trashy people block your view. Wish you would've had a better time, but glad you did check it out. Now if we can somehow change your mind about the new grandfather Brett Favre.

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