NOTE: I did not write this: original link here
While I occasionally enjoy the the adrenaline rush of mixed martial arts fight, particularly when skillfully edited down to highlights of the most brutal violence, I also realize that many of the fans take this sport very seriously. I can see some of the appeal: it seems to be a more natural mode of fighting, closer to the bar-brawl than boxing, with the fighter restricted less. Being closer to a real-world fight means that it might be more practical and sensible than boxing, without the artificially injected rules. It’s as if somebody came up with a version of football without the pads and ridiculous QB-protection contrivances.
The problem with MMA is the nature of most of the fights. There is more grappling on the ground than striking. For those of us who never grew up fighting every day, and not shirtless on the days that we did fight, and those of us with an aversion to sharing body fluids with men, there is something gross about all of this moist squirming.
MMA’s present popularity is directly tied to the popularity of the movie based on Palahniuk’s novel. It tied fighting to manhood and showed how men found an identity and a kind of freedom in hand-to-hand combat. Of course Palahniuk was writing about his own homosexuality and the whole experience of finding himself and his sexual identity with men. Fighting worked as a metaphor for gay sex. The novel was not meant to be literal, but the literal-minded have taken it that way and turned metaphor for gay sex into an international pastime.
What you have is a movement based on a misinterpretation of a book. It has been co-opted by jocks and guys who want to prove their toughness to the world. Basically, the professional wrestling set. Possibly the most homophobic group, this making all an amusing pantomime for those who got what Palahniuk was trying to say.