My poor mother. A woman who can’t watch television shows where characters are cruel to each other has a son who has made his career writing about a sport where the object is to cause other people pain. This is also a woman who is completely repulsed by real blood coming from real human bodies. So I never thought I’d actually convince her to sit through an MMA fight with me – honestly, I never even bothered asking – and when she voluntarily sat next to me for the entirety of UFC 155 while I was home for the holidays, it was what some of a particular religious bent might call a Christmas miracle.
And poor, devoted mother of mine, she hung in there all night long, even after Jim Miller split open Joe Lauzon’s head with a series of elbows in the first round of the their co-main event that left the canvas covered in blood and Miller and Lauzon looking more like survivors of a bus crash than athletes participating in a sporting event. Sensing her displeasure, I tried to assure her that even a little cut around the eyebrow can lead to a lot of blood, so things probably looked a lot worse than they really were for Lauzon. When the round ended, though, and they showed his carved-up face up close, my defense was ringing hollow.
“They should let him quit,” my mother said. I assured her that they would if Lauzon aksed but that Lauzon wouldn’t ask. But I knew that wasn't what she was saying. She was saying that any decent sporting organization would call off the fight before any more blood was spilled. Recalling a fight earlier in the evening when referee Kim Winslow called a break so a fighter could find his mouthpiece, my mother said if a woman were reffing the Lauzon/Miller fight, it would have been over two minutes into round one -- fight called on account of motherly concern.
Interestingly, not an hour before, while watching her very first fight – a quick-paced if uneventful boxing scrap between Eddie Wineland and Brad Pickett – my mother had commented on the lack of blood. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I sensed disappointment when I asked her about it after the fight was over -- like the anticipation of her indiginant horror had been so great that the reality had actually been something of a disappointment.
Fightland: What did you think of your first MMA fight?
Mom: It was good. I’m surprised that there was no blood. They didn’t really get bloody at all. It was pretty tame. How do they get all bloody like they show them in the commercials?
Sometimes they don’t get bloody.
It’s better if they don’t get bloody. I like that. I like watching them dance and kick and fight and not get bloody. I prefer no blood.
* * * * * *
What struck me strange after the fights that night wasn’t how affected my mother was by all the blood and brutality -- that I'd expected -- but how unaffected I was. I realized I'd barely blinked during the Lauzon/Miller fight, and that got me a little worried. Was it good that I'd gotten to a point where I was so accustomed to the site of one of my fellow men leaking blood from his head in public that it hardly even registered? Was that healthy? Watch a fight with someone who has never watched one before and the avid MMA fan quickly realizes how far outside the mainstream he/she has drifted. It's like slipping ever so slightly and ever so slowly off the rails of decent society, until you don't know how you get back.
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.