Mixed martial arts is full of contradictions. It can be beautiful yet brutal, captivating but crude, poetic and perturbing in equal measure. For all of the sport’s refinement and sophistication, it is, at heart, a violent, bloody spectacle. It’s what entices so many of us to watch with crazed fanaticism whilst others cover their eyes in horror at the sheer barbarity of it all. Some can’t look away; others simply can’t bear to look.
The moves that mesmerise raucous crowds, are immortalised in highlight reels and set social media ablaze, are the same moves that cause horrific injuries for the unfortunate recipients. A slashing elbow on the nose, a flying knee to the cranium, an orbital-shattering punch. All leave fighters battered and bloodied.
And yet, in full knowledge that these are real humans bludgeoning each other into submission, we cheer them on and revel in the savage theatre of battle unfolding before us. Maybe it’s because we revere fighters who suffer unimaginable levels of physical punishment in their quest for glory. Or perhaps we possess an innate morbid curiosity that yearns to see just how macabre a fight can get.
No matter the reasons, what’s undeniable is that while fight fans admire great technique, we thrive on gruesomely bloody brawls.