Saturday, February 21, 2009


I tend to frighten the family pets when I indulge in one of my favorite pastimes: watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This is a mixed martial arts (MMA) combat sporting event where opponents come together “inside the octagon”. In UFC the fighters employ a wide range of skills: boxing, wrestling, and a variety of martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muy Thai, and kickboxing. Each fighter brings a unique blend of skills, strengths, and weaknesses to the bout, and you never know exactly what you are going to see – ground-and-pound, stand-up fight, tap-out, a knockout in the first 14 seconds, or a call because one of the fighters is bleeding so profusely it is dangerous to continue.

I get very excited as the bouts progress. I jump up and down, scream and yell, and root for my favorite fighter (usually whoever is the underdog). In other words, I act like any other fan of any other sport. But this particular sport is different from any other sport I’ve ever seen in one important aspect: sportsmanship.

Most sports tout sportsmanship but in my experience it is rarely demonstrated; in fact I think the opposite is quite often true. But in the UFC something extraordinary happens after almost every fight.

The fighters check to make sure each is okay. They may hug each other or kneel together on the mat and have a few quiet words. The winner may bow to the loser (a sign of respect in martial arts). I’ve seen the loser actually grab the winner’s arm away from the referee and hold it up himself.

During one second, blood could be flying everywhere and one fighter may be pounding the other into the mat, or choking him out, or beating him into the side of the cage with kicks and punches. But as soon as the fight is called, they are grabbing each other and checking wounds and hugging and talking and in general exhibiting a concern and respect for each other that I’ve never seen in any other sport.

It warms my heart to see it. Quite a satisfactory ending to a pulse-pounding event.


What unexpected action has warmed your heart lately?

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