You are watching a great MMA fight. Two combatants, toe to toe, nose to nose. Punches, holds, grapples, throws. One guy’s bleeding, with a busted eye, his opponent is banged up, sure, but he’s nowhere near as beat up.
It goes to the final round, and the guy who’s busted up gets the win. What! Your mind immediately thinks the obvious – this thing is staged.
Like pro-wrestling which we all know(sorry if you didn’t, spoiler alert) is staged, MMA shares many of the same characteristics: Giant humans; Big arenas;. Uncanny athleticism; and the characteristic most important to this article – huge flamboyant personalities and over-the-top antics outside of the ring.
MMA has storylines that rival pro-wrestling; rivalries that span generations, friendships turned sour, vendettas for fallen comrades, and families destroyed. This spectacle clearly adds to the emotional feel of the match.
Knowing that two people have a feud before they enter the ring serves to add an element of excitement hard to find in other, more traditional pro-sports.
However, we must remember the old axiom; correlation does not equal causality. Sure, MMA and Pro-wrestling share similar characteristics, but that doesn’t mean they are both fakes. We see the punch in MMA that cuts the fighter’s eye wide open. MMA should be closer in people’s minds to boxing if you ask me; both sports have similarities when it comes to gear, MMA gloves can be used to punch heavy bags (I love hitting my Wavemaster XXL with MMA gloves), also knocking your opponent to the mat is a significant finishing move, unlike wrestling where finishing moves are more choreographic.
We see the blood, and in slow motion replay, nevertheless. We see the fighter break his leg on a sweeping kick to his opponent’s shinbone. We see the choke out that causes a grown man’s eyes to roll back in his head and go limp.
All of that blood, and pain. Let’s be honest-to fake these moments would take a level of theatricality rivaling Hollywood.
These events are live, often in front of packed 100,000 seat arenas. Multiple cameras show multiple angles of every action. We also see the fighters at the end, standing in front of the referee waiting for the decision. These are all things we don’t see in pro-wrestling, where the cameras tend to be farther back and zoomed in, and the fighters often run out of the arena when a supposed injury takes place.
To believe MMA is fake, would equate to believing in one of the largest cover-ups in pro-sports history; if not the largest. ESPN, the internet, all TV networks, thousands, and thousands of people would have to be in on it.
Everyone coordinated and keeping quiet. The amount of money it would take to justify that conspiracy would rival the US debt. Last time I checked (which was not anytime recent, I’ll admit) MMA isn’t generating trillions of dollars in revenue to equal that conspiracy expense. The only shade of gray here is some of the rivalries and backstage antics we see.
These fighters, their managers, and organizations like UFC all know that stories build excitement, hence audience and revenue. To fake, or exaggerate some of these personal dynamics between fighters makes sense, and while maybe “fake” is not completely real, it sure makes for a hell of a fight.