The Real, The Fake, and The Disingenuous

Throngs of people cheered in anticipation for UFC 246’s Mystic Mac Vs Cowboy, better known as Conor Macgregor and Donald Cerrone. There has been an increasing interest in how the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is perceived worldwide.  UFC fights are watched by “millions of television viewers, in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, UFC draw crowds of some 20,000 people, offering a sporting spectacle like no other.” 

Mayweather and McGregor.JPG
Conor McGregor talking trash to Floyd Mayweather (Source: Reuters/Steve Marcus)

The media attention to this particular UFC fight is in part due to the notoriously violent behaviour Conor McGregor has displayed in the past which helped him to become one of the UFC stars.  By “delivering ridiculous boasts and delectably profane insults with a charming Irish lilt, he needed less than five years to propel himself from low-profile shows in Dublin to UFC dominance and the unprecedented payday of his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.” However, the violent nature of the sport has led to questioning its safety, because it raises the risk of injuries and societal and moral harm. But, others see no uncontrolled aggression in the MMA (mixed martial arts), highlighting fighters’ greater capacity of self-control when using a variety of fighting techniques. 

The MMA defense is that there is no real violence in the sport and what fighters are doing is just a staged violence, a spectacle, i.e. “a commodified product possible to desire and enjoy.” From the outside, UFC fights look like all opponents each other’s enemies and they have everything in their power to destroy each other, but this is far from what is really happening within this sport. This image is for the spectator: “[T]he UFC needs to attract media attention to the fights, and therefore we have the trash talk. You watched the fight between McGregor and Mayweather and how they trashed each other, but at the same time they travel in the same private jet.” Thus, they were portraying an illusionary world to the public of what the sport is. This is reinforced with the fighter’s personas (Mystic mac and Cowboy) that they portray in the public eye.  Therefore, “the sport exists close to the boundary between the real and ‘mock’ fighting” (Spencer, 2014).

Who is Spencer? You need a link to that source if you’re going to use it. (Do not erase the feedback.)

The spectacle of the sport might be coming to an end for McGregor with his recent change in attitude for his upcoming fight, showing he has abandoned the aggressive behaviour towards his opponents. He is coming back after he had announced his retirement from the sport, claiming the sport as non-violent; “The world will soon find out whether McGregor is the same fighter now that his trash talk has been recycled into good vibes.” He is abandoning violence in the entertainment and consumer culture. He does want to take his participation in the sport seriously because in the end violence in the MMA is not just entertainment. The violence is as real as the blood-stained mat of the octagon often shows; fighters get injured and this can have long-term consequences.

by Roberto R.

Featured image: Left: Conor McGregor Right: Donald Cerrone (Source: Getty images)

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