Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fisticuffs and Hearts

I like watching UFC. I haven't seen the figures, but I believe UFC/mixed martial arts matches are becoming considerably more popular than boxing, for good reason. Mixed martial arts matches allow both grappling and striking. There are now some rules, and gloves are worn, but each fighter has considerably more options than boxers do. Fights are more dynamic and entertaining than boxing.

In the past, I have felt guilty about enjoying a boxing match, but perhaps oddly enough, I don't feel guilty about waching a UFC fight. A skilled fighter can often force his opponent to submit without inflicting serious damage, and it does happen fairly frequently. At the same time, it is indeed true that knockout blows do occur.

I'll admit to being unimpressed with various martial arts contest in the past. Many bouts are "light touch"- the object is to quickly strike your opponent before he can block. In these bouts, a hard blow was cause for disqualification. While I believe in learning control, it just always appeared to be a bad idea to teach students to not hit as hard as they could.

So, while UFC may not be exactly the same as a "real" fight- because there is a referee, and some rules- it does take courage to climb into the ring with some young wildcat who trains for hours every day to inflict mayhem on someone else in the ring.

There are some folks who project a very macho,swaggering image, and there are some others, who seem to be the sweetest people, really beautiful souls. I like these people, who are humble in victory, and gracious in defeat. It's even better if these people are willing to "throw it all out there"- to vigorously work for a victory, instead of just working to not lose.

I was watching UFC yesterday, and I saw the Roger Huerta vs. Leonard Garcia fight. I'd never seen Huerta fight before, and Garcia is a newcomer to UFC. The announcer said Huerta had a hard life growing up in the SouthWest and in Mexico, and like almost all UFC fighters, he's got at least his share of body art. Huerta was respectful to his opponent as the match began- and then, they GOT IT ON!

These two guys- in my weight class, 155- went at it. I mean, hard. Head kicks (rarely seen in these bouts), lots of boxing, grappling- they didn't hold back. Huerta is in incredible shape, and even though he rapidly proved to be dominant, the new guy, Garcia, was grinning a lot of the time as they fought.

By the second round, it was pretty obvious Huerta was going to win the fight unless something changed. Instead of trying to play it safe, though, he kept fighting hard, and Garcia, instead of being more cautious, became less so, agressively swinging away. These two fought hard the whole damn time. They just didn't stop.

As the match ended, Huerta reached out, and grabbed Garcia by the head. Garcia grabbed him back, and they just knelt on the mat together for a minute. I don't know if Huerta was praying, or if he was just telling Garcia how much he respected him, and what a bright future he had, but I teared up. When he stood up, Huerta grabbed Garcia's hand, and held it up in the air. When Joe Rogan came by, instead of trying to hog the microphone, Huerta pulled Garcia over, too, and talked about how much heart Garcia had.

Yeah, Leonard Garcia had a swollen eye. Yeah, he didn't win the match. But as he walked out the ring with his arm on Roger Huerta, you couldn't doubt that this match had NO loser. I have never enjoyed a match more, because of both the action, and the incredible gentility shown by Huerta. There have been times in my life I've toyed with the idea of MMA competition, though I'm now older than the vast majority of fighters. If I ever step in the ring, I could think of no better example of how to fight and how to win than you, Roger Huerta. Thank you.

1 comment:

Less said...

I think that this is the ("next")
great demise of boxing... Though
it is kind of like a phoenix,

Anyway, my point is that you need
pay per view, most folks don't
even know the players, and even
cheap tickets are expensive!

Bad marketing is ruining the sport.

I'm sticking with it cause I'm a
wuss! I wouldn't want to climb in
the ring with some 20 year old

As Toby Keith says, "I ain't as
good as I once was, but I'm as
good once as I ever was..."

Cheers! Get back safe, bro!
Still want you recipe for beans!