By Kevin Triggs, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published Nov 02, 2016 at 7:11 PM

I don’t think it’s the election anymore. It’s just the country we live in.

We seemed to have an ebb and flow through the 1980s as folks reached over the aisle and at least aesthetically compromised in ways that made some of us feel like we were getting a portion.

Fast forward 30 years and the gauntlet has now been dropped, our verbal axe sharpened, intent on vanquishing the enemy. Our countrymen with whom we share a history and a future have become nothing more than a scourge that needs to be wiped clean, demolished, erased from existence.

And it comes from both sides; don’t pretend your side is the torchbearer of sanctity. It ain’t. And you’re not. We’ve lost our ability to see the ones in which we disagree at their most basic: a human being.

Some will tell you that our ever-devolving bloodlust is either a reason for or a byproduct of where we find ourselves today. May I submit to you the exact opposite.

We need more combat. We need more fights. And mixed martial arts is what can save us.

Save us from ourselves.

I’m willing to wager that most reading this have never fought. Sure, some of you have engaged in a schoolyard tussle, a bar brawl, or perhaps at worst some sort of street altercation. Of those, I do not speak.

A sanctioned, agreed upon, scheduled and completed fight. A fight for which you train. A fight for which you count down the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes. A fight for which you are forced to not only look into yourself for answers, but also, more importantly, to look into your opponent’s self. To identify them and the condition they find themselves in at the time of competition.

From the first day of training to the act of raising one’s arm, the humanity of your opponent, their being, their essence, spirit and soul cannot be discounted. You begin to appreciate the platform they are providing for you. A blessed opportunity to learn about yourself. What you expose, your faults, your weaknesses and your strengths. The balance of ego and fear, how both are so crucial to who we all are.

And how important everyone else’s is.

You cannot obtain that knowledge in a board room, with statistics and arms waving about. You will fall short on the football field where helmets disguise, gang tackles abound and someone blocks while you hand it off to your best player. Even the most articulate attorney can be hamstrung by race and economic divide. A brain surgeon? Perhaps. If they were to be operating on themselves. A seasoned performer, an actor, you say? The theater is a fine display of talent and expression, but it’s acting, and there’s always another show.

When experienced through the proper coach or academy, the concept of the fight becomes much less important than how we get there. And how we get there is through hours and hours of pushing ourselves against fellow – say it with me now – human beings, but who also happen to be opponents. To beat an opponent in a fight, it is essential that we recognize their humanity. And when that recognition is complete, they become beautiful in ways the uninitiated could never imagine.

I’ve seen it happen. In the gym, in the ring, on the mat, sealed inside of a cage. Folks that had preconceived notions of another’s race, religion, socio-economic status or political persuasion, moved to a more thoughtful relationship after – again, after – combat has ensued.

Politics make people want to fight. Fighting makes people want to discuss. Conversations that I thought would be impossible have been conducted earnestly after a 10-minute sparring session or post-submission.

Once the fight has taken place, once lumps have been properly distributed, you begin to see yourself in all your imperfection. And when you realize that the choices you make are often wrong and you are properly damaged and punished for those choices, a compromise can then begin.

So, have it at. Instead of screaming about how awful the left or the right is, take one month – one stinking month – to train as if you had a fight in your future. Box, wrestle, grapple, strike, submit. And, I can promise, your never-ending quest to be right will now seem almost infantile compared to how you treat your fellow human being.

For thousands of years we revered our warriors, our samurais, our fighters.

Become one and love your opponent like you never have before.

We’ve got a bit of a dry spell in the ways of the UFC (there is some regional action, and Bellator has a decent card on Nov. 4), but the fight game’s highest league is off until Nov. 5.

Normally I wouldn’t exactly love the idea of a Knees to the Grounded column during such a hiatus, but as a true fight degenerate I feel like it’s my duty to offer up some suggestions while we wait for the ridiculous schedule ahead.

So, what to do in the meantime, fight fans?

I’ve always found fall and the Halloween season the perfect time to take some risks, dare yourself, reach out and test the unexpected, especially as it would relate to your significant other. C’mon. The air is crisp, the moonlight tricks the eyes, you and yours are all frisky like.

So, drop something new into the mix. You’d like to try some butt play? Who’s better than you? Now’s the perfect time to ask. I’m sure the kind folks over at Milwaukee Tool Shed will be happy to steer you in the right direction. Just remember to take it slow. You have all the time in the world; Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Been thinking about a little cross dressing? Some gender bending? Is there a holiday season more perfect than the present? Go ahead; I got your back. And if you’re looking for advice or tips, head over to Hamburger Mary’s on Friday for the weekly Dinner with Divas. I’m sure they’d be happy to help with the curious of all kinds. Much respect, ladies!

Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve been thinking about including a third person into the mix. Well, sorry. Can’t help you out there; I’m sort of booked up for the time being. But it’ll never happen unless you ask someone. So go ask somebody!

And if you are without a companion this time of the year and you’ve been too shy to approach someone, get dressed up, attend a local party or nightclub and stomp out that fear of rejection.

Once you get your kicks and your kinks out, the fight world will be back in oh-so-glorious of forms. And although competition has been few and far between, the game ceases to remain silent. All kind of buzz is afoot.

Ronda Rousey, one of the UFC’s largest stars announced her comeback after over one year off and a lost championship. She’ll be returning with an immediate title shot against current 135-pound strap-holder Amanda Nunes. The company is still building out the card, but Rousey should still draw well, regardless of who else is on it. Lots of folks, fighters included, complain about her title shot after such a long hiatus and brutal beat-down, but she built that division and put women’s MMA in pop culture. She deserves the shot and could very well find this as an ideal matchup.

Speaking of women, do yourself a favor and search out "Mackenzie Dern omoplata rnc submission," like, right now. OK, did you see that? This young professor as an absolute phenom on the ground after capturing everything you can pretty much capture at the grappling level. She has littered the landscape with gold. Her submission victory this month will absolutely be in the running for "sub of the year." She’s well spoken, marketable and now 2-0 in the cage. Will she stumble? Sure; everyone does in this sport. That said, if she continues to put in performances like she has, I expect to see her in the UFC no later than 2018.

As much as I have and will continue to extol the virtues of combat sports (see above), I am by no means blind to the very real fact that when it does fall into the wrong hands, horrible circumstances can arise. Two cases in point that I believe all fight fans should at the very least be aware of.

Chechen leader and on-again, off-again Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov made waves in the combat sports world earlier this month by holding an MMA event that featured three of his children in what could best be described as squash matches resulting in wins and belts for his offspring and undoubted trauma and humiliation for their opponents. And that’s if they really had a choice to fight.

The merits of children’s MMA aside (we can get into that at a later date), from everything reported it was clear that these kids were, generally speaking, not ready to fight the Kadyrov crew. At least in one case, it resulted in a knockout.

Kadyrov has been a huge supporter of mixed martial arts in Chechnya; in fact, many of his country’s fighters are among the best in the world.

But the staging of this event brought many in the sport to question the morality of what he had done, including many Russians, such as the country’s most revered mixed martial artist, Fedor Emelianenko. For those not in the know, Emelianenko was essentially the Babe Ruth of heavyweight MMA for a decade. Going undefeated and fighting the best at that time, his legacy in Russia and throughout the sport is unquestionable. So unquestionable, in fact, that Putin himself attended many of Fedor’s fights and is now being used at times to assist in Russian propaganda in the ways of fitness, sportsmanship and all around national toughness.

Putin-type stuff.

Emelianenko took time a few weeks ago to publicly criticize the Chechen leader for the event and the potential damage it caused for the youngsters involved. Emelianenko’s 16-year-old daughter was assaulted by unknown assailants later that week. Bloody Elbow journalist Karim Zidan has an excellent piece floating about reviewing the situation in much more detail, and I highly recommend it.

Putin needs both Kadyrov and Emelianenko for his own self-interests, and the dichotomy between the two pollinated with combat sports is fascinating. And, most assuredly, situations like this continue to create for planting an official UFC flag (see event) in Russia. Which is really too bad, because they may in fact have the best stable of fighters on the planet.

And speaking of bad news, we might as well discuss the transition that All-Pro NFL defensive end Greg Hardy is supposedly planning on making to MMA.

As many of you know, I’ve been highly critical of the NFL’s treatment of domestic violence (I could really care less about his drug use, and you probably shouldn’t care either). As fight fans we all dream of the day where there’s enough money and prestige to coax the world’s best athletes over 200 pounds into our sport. Football and basketball garner most potential heavyweight’s consideration from an early age.

And there’s simply no argument in how dominant of an athlete Greg Hardy is. However, as good as he is on the gridiron he seems to double that in being a pure scumbag off the field. The issue is, you can’t stop someone from walking into a gym and training to their heart’s content. Furthermore, there are literally hundreds of promotors across the country that would absolutely give Hardy the opportunity to step into a cage. And, given his age, his previous athletic endeavors and the shallowness of the heavyweight division, he could actually make some serious headway quickly, ala Brock Lesnar.

Does that mean that the UFC should eventually pick him up? I think not. I’d like to live in a world where the sport’s highest platform is still looked at as a privilege as opposed to a right. That said, if this guy actually competes and puts together a string of two or three wins on the regional circuit, high-level promotions will start taking a peek.

Here’s to hoping that the true essence and sprit of a martial artist help modify Hardy’s behavior for the better.

The next 10 weeks are the genuine article, as megastars, old faces, and young blue chippers will all be vying for your attention.

Conor McGregor is facing his toughest fight to date on Nov. 12. Eddie Alvarez is a first ballot hall of famer. Fact. Polish MMA stars continue to bloom, as Joanna Jedrzejczyk battles Karolina Kowalkiewicz for the women’s straw weight strap (115 pounds). In addition, Marcin Held, an up-and-coming Polish leg-lock savant, will be making his UFC debut.

The pseudo middle weight grand prix, the return of Cowboy Cerrone, Cormier vs. Johnson, Cain vs. Werdum II, Rizen’s crazy New Year’s Eve! Hose me down, ya’ll. I’m getting way too excited.

Until next time. Enjoy the fights and all that goes with it.

All of it.

Knees to the Grounded is a regular column that will look at life and popular culture through the lens of combat sports. Kevin Triggs is the author of "Ready Fire Aim" and can be followed on Twitter @milwaukeeson.