Sport MMA Anti-UFC story is ‘bile masquerading as opinion’
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Anti-UFC story is ‘bile masquerading as opinion’

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You fools.

You all bought it … and you had News Corp’s fat cats rubbing their hands with glee.

Did you read Phil “Buzz” Rothfield‘s mixed martial arts (MMA) column yesterday on the website of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph?

The one in which he described the UFC — specifically, the UFC Fight Night 33 card in Brisbane — as “barbaric savagery that should be banned in this country”?

The one in which he trotted out the old “what about the kids?” lines? (I kid you not. Quote: “It scared me that the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was sold out with so many thousands of people — including families with young children!”).

The one in which he trotted out the old “what is this doing to society?” line? (I kid you not. Quote: “What does it say about our society?”).

The one in which he trotted out the old “this could lead to mayhem on our streets!” line? (I kid you not. Quote: “Why are the competitors allowed to do all this inside a cage when it’s illegal on the streets? People have been sent to jail for less than what happened inside a cage on Saturday”.)

Forgive me for quoting this yarn almost verbatim. I could do what any other digitally-savvy journalist would normally do in this situation — and simply provide a link to Rothfield’s yarn.

But that is exactly what News Corp wants. So I won’t do it. This is nothing but trolling … of the media variety.

You see, there are more than 700,000 reasons why The Daily Telegraph would do a tremendous job promoting this torrent of bile masquerading as “opinion”.

Daily unique browsers for The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald websites.
Daily unique browsers for The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald websites.

The graph above shows the online readers for the websites of Sydney’s two newspapers, The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald. The Daily Telegraph might be winning the battle in terms of newspaper circulation … but they’re losing the war that will set them up for the future — the war for online readers. The SMH’s lead over The Daily Telegraph yesterday? More than 700,000. That’s a scary figure for the News Corp powerbrokers sitting behind their mahogany desks in central Sydney.

The best way to drum up an audience? In the grand tradition of Today Tonight and A Current Affair … fearmonger. And when it comes to tabloid journalism, Rothfield is up there with the best. Linking the sport of mixed martial arts to violence in the street, barbaric savagery and corruption of young children? Absolute tabloid gold.

Is anyone really surprised, then, that there were an army of mixed martial arts fans queuing up to to challenge this hateful, misinformed, offensive piece of writing, which reveals Rothfield’s lack of knowledge on the sport as much as it reveals his bias? Of course not.

Before I go on, I should declare something. I’m a mixed martial arts fan. I rarely miss a televised UFC event; I often write stories on UFC cards, like the UFC Fight Night 33: Hunt vs Bigfoot card in Brisbane on Saturday; I’ve even been to watch a few local shows here in Melbourne.

My interest in the UFC grew gradually. I wasn’t exposed to the sport through my parents, and I didn’t have it rammed down my throat by a fanatical friend. I came to it gradually, my love of combat sports born from my formative years watching boxing with my grandfather, back in the days when Mike Tyson was an unstoppable force in the heavyweight division.

I realised a personal, and professional, dream in 2000 when I covered boxing at the Sydney Olympics. Watching the Cuban legend, Felix Savon, fight his way to a third consecutive gold medal in the heavyweight division is a moment I’ll cherish forever.

But I became disillusioned with boxing … specifically, professional boxing. I grew frustrated with the vast number of sanctioning bodies and multiple world champions. I hated the fact that you rarely saw the best fighters in each division face each other to decide who really was the world’s best. I’m still frustrated that, after years of waiting, we still haven’t seen Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight, simply because neither fighter can agree on who should promote the fight, or what drug testing regime should be employed.

This never, ever happens in the UFC. The best mixed martial artists in the world all fight under the UFC banner, meaning that you’re always going to have legitimate world champions.

In the UFC, we witness fascinating contests that bring together a variety of skill-sets, from boxing, to wrestling, jiu-jitsu, karate and judo. The sport’s athletes are among the fittest, and most dedicated to their profession, in the world. Bouts are sanctioned by athletic commissions, they are at all times monitored by doctors, and they are certainly not no-holds-barred — they are contested under a strict set of rules that ban low blows, kicks to downed opponents and strikes to the back of the head.

My opinion? Mixed martial arts is a sporting contest in its purist form … a one-on-one showdown pitting skill, durability, tenacity and courage.

There happens to be a lot of people who share my opinion.

Conversely, there are many people who simply do not like the sport.

Spare us the whole ‘the UFC must be banned for the sake of our kids, for the sake of society’ line. Puh-lease.

And you know what? MMA fans are fine with that. If you don’t like MMA, you have a choice. Change the channel. Go back to your rugby league, your boxing or your lawn bowls, for all I care. But spare us the whole “the UFC must be banned for the sake of our kids, for the sake of society” line. Puh-lease. If watching MMA is going to encourage young people to brawl in the streets, why aren’t we talking about banning Olympic sports like shooting, archery and fencing? We can’t have our kids mimicking those sports in the playground, now can we?

Mixed martial arts is here to stay. Some people will never be fans of the sport … but hey, I’m not a fan of synchronised swimming, either. That’s why I don’t watch it.

And there’s a very good reason why I’m not a reader of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph. You can probably guess why.

Buzz Rothfield, enjoy your coffee with the UFC’s Tom Wright today. But please … make sure you take your notepad. You’re going to need to take some notes before you troll write your next story.

If you’d like to read a little bit more about the sport, I can help you out with that. Feel free to click on the links below.

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