The most read MMA article in Ireland Today is by Joe Brolly – that probably says it all really

In mid 2013 Ireland was buried to the balls , in a seemingly, little remembered old friend – the Global Recession. Emphasis on the Capital G.

One of the most important consequences of this global financial meltdown (and quite frankly unreported by the Financial Times) was that yours truly was forced to re-locate from the West of Ireland (Monday morning to Friday Evening thank you very much) to Dublin’s Fair city for gainful employment.

And like thousands of others trekking from the west on a weekly basis – there wasn’t a word of protest out of any of us at 6:30am in the Applegreen filling station at Enfield as we gathered to refill our coffee mugs, for the last leg of the Monday morning commute – Damn glad to have the work the lot of us.

It was around this time that i first heard the words Conor McGregor. The exact exchange with a fellow motorway dweller was

‘ What’s that shite your watching on your phone – what the fuuuuccccck is that’ – Me

‘ Oh it’s the UFC and sure you know Conor McGregor’ – Him

I most certainly didn’t know Conor McGregor and the UFC could have been a UFO for all I knew at the time. You see i come from the GAA heartlands and in mid 2013 that was most of the country.

If you don’t know what the GAA or GAA culture means you may need to force yourself to read this article, take a laxative and then proceed.

This piece was triggered by picking up my Sunday newspapers and finding MMA has made one of it’s brief Sojourns into the mainstream sports media in Ireland. And the average Irish reporter isn’t too happy with McGregor and the UFC.

After 2.4 million people paid cash to watch the mixed martial arts extravaganza that was UFC 229 the response in the Irish media doesn’t seem to be one of recognition. Recognition that this sport is now mainstream. ESPN have done a deal for over 1 billion yoyos to broadcast the UFC from 2019 and yet still it is spoken of in Ireland like it’s some town-hall Disco you can shutdown with a letter from a local county councillor.

Make no mistake not all of this is about Conor Mcgregor anymore. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win on Oct 6th has lit a fuse of support in the Muslim world. A global Muslim superstar is fully born and ready to go. 8 million people watched his post fight press conference in the first 24 hours after the fight. Not many of them were sipping a Pint of Guinness.

In particular what sparked me to write about this was an article by Joe Brolly in the Sunday Independent. I suggest the Irish amongst you lot have a read of it at some point if you haven’t already.

As usual with Joe, it’s an entertaining piece but obviously he clearly is not a fan of the UFC and basically finishes the article with the provocative idea that maybe the UFC should be banned or put out of business.

The article reminded me of my reaction to the UFC or Mixed Martial Arts when i first laid eyes on it just over 5 years ago on an Iphone 5.

I didn’t understand it, it looked ultra-violent and i thought about my kids taking up the sport. Yikes!. In the intervening period mixed martial arts has become a minor obsession of mine and certainly the creation of this blog is an extension of that.

I have changed my views over time but that doesn’t necessarily mean i am right to have done so.

Joe Brolly commenting in such a negative way about a sport to the point of calling for the UFC to be banned is basically the same as calling for Mixed Martial Arts to be outlawed. He is doing a disservice to MMA pioneers and enthusiasts in Ireland but i also think he is doing it unintentionally.

To use a lawyerly type term Joe. Go do your due diligence. There are plenty of MMA Teams and clubs across the North and in Belfast. See how they are run at grass roots level. Look at the effect the lifestyle has on the individuals involved. This is isn’t just about a fight on a Saturday night for most of the athletes involved – It’s a lifestyle choice.

Many of your court attendees come from the same background as many of the people that are both running and competing in this sport. And successfully steering away from any type of community violence. There is code of discipline, honesty and values at play that i do not think is fully appreciated in wider circles.

In Ireland, in essence, it is an emerging culture for people who don’t fit into the world of the GAA. The fight at the end is about 5% of what is going on here.

Is it responsible to be exposing children to violence of this nature in their most impressionable teenage years?

  • My response to that line of thinking is to reply with my own question.

Is It responsible not to?

Would you prefer Call of Duty or the latest wave of violent games to be the sole instructor of your child’s impressions about violence. Because they ain’t learning it anywhere else. And it ain’t leaving Planet Earth any time soon.

Violence whether in the wider world or in mixed martial arts is inevitable i would argue it always has been thus. Whether you want to go back to Slaves in the Coliseum or Conor McGregor on the 6th of October last. Or to a Joe Brolly witness in your average courthouse!. We can deal in abstract tenses like shouldn’t , wouldn’t or couldn’t but violence in our society isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Mixed Martial Arts teaches kids to respect Violence because if the don’t they could get themselves killed or severely injured. By extension of this it instructs them to respect their opponent.

It teaches them humility as nothing is a humbling as getting yourself choked or sparked the fuck out in training or in learning your skills. But most of all it teaches them all this in as safe as an environment as is possible when dealing in the business of fighting.

Is it dangerous – Potentially very much so. Does it have a place in a modern society. Vitally so i would say. It’s a choice after all and one that is not for everyone.

But remember that the Crowds roared in the Coliseum and they roared in the T-mobile Arena last Saturday week. After 2,000 plus years of civilization and that is the point – The crowd still roars.

Getting rid of Dana White and the UFC won’t dim the roars for long…… if at all.


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