A crazy road with nine weeks of anticipation. At last it was there. UFC 193. Etihad Stadium, 56,218 people. A UFC record (sorry Canada).
Yesterday I experienced something of unlikely beauty in the twisted, alluring and violent game of MMA. It’s a difficult task to describe the brilliant dance that takes place when two humans step into the cage, set their fears aside and commit their bodies to battle, voulntarily placing themselves at the intersection of greatness and violence.
There is no guarantee of win or grandeur – just the chance to add the mark of victory to their own story.
Sitting first row, barely ten feet away, I witnessed the rich tapestry of footwork, head movement, every set up and level change, every clinch. The exact moment that a human being is battling their natural instinct with logic and implementing the perfect game plan. Also the carnage. It’s indescribable, like watching pieces of puzzle fall perfectly into place.
For over seven hours I watched men and women exit the cage, some left battered and bruised, others with their head held high. Their victory is one of primitive destruction and their minds briefly abducted into absolute triumph before gravity drives them back to down to earth.
Knowing that these prize fighters have physically diminished their bodies for a day, a week or perhaps a lifetime is a heavy cross to bare when it happens right before your eyes. Voluntarilty watching a body fall limp to the canvas after a brutal head kick or a witnessing a fleeting moment of unconsciousness after a perfectly executed rear naked choke – it’s an emotional quandry, not something to be taken lightly but something that demands respect.
It’s almost impossible not to become captivated by the experience, even more impossible to explain it to those who don’t understand it. To them it’s an exhibtion of violence, not art. And thankfully, they don’t control the narrative.
My first chapter in MMA has finally been completed, I wait in eager anticipation for the next.