So I was watching UFC the other day (you know, I don't think I have ever said that before) and I was intrigued at my reaction. Ed told me to watch. He says UFC is the third most popular sport in the US after football and NASCAR. (Golf may have been in there too. Anyone doing research on the topic would be wise to check these stats. Ed got his info from his buddy Frederico who heard it from his uncle. Not exactly a Nielsen survey.)
My point is that Ed said I should watch UFC because it is -- his word -- intense. I asked him what was intense about it and he said that the UFC guys really care. They train hard, they are jacked to the max, and they give it everything.
It's not like wrestling? I asked.
Nothing like wrestling. It's not scripted at all -- which means that sometimes it can get boring. But if you see a good bout, it's well ...
You got it, Dad.
So I was one of the new treadmills at the Y, with the built-in TV, flipping through channels to find something that I can follow without earphones -- curling, say -- and a UFC logo flashed across my little screen, and I stopped to watch a couple of rounds. And I was, as I said, strangely intrigued.
For those who need footnotes, Ultimate Fighting Challenge is a kind of organized street-fighting, only without weapons. It takes place in a totally enclosed ring, and you can do pretty much anything short of biting your opponent. Maybe you can bite -- I don't know. The match I watched had its boring moments but there was a lot of intensity. By the time the guy in the gold surfer shorts put a headlock on the guy in black spandex, and twisted hard enough to get him to "tap" or concede (to be honest I thought his neck was about to break) I had run a couple of miles without noticing. I nodded to myself. I could understand the sport's attraction.
Ed was right. UFC is not wrestling (WW whatever). I don't mean to offend you if you are a fan, but I confess that I find wrestling a dreadful bore. Yes, it is popular too. (I don't know where Frederico's uncle ranks it.) Yes, the competitors are in good shape and some of the moves are athletic. But the sport remains, to my mind, a combination of bad theater and a he-man competition -- a soap opera merged with an elk mating ritual. UFC is the elk mating ritual on its own -- brutal and obvious -- but infintely better for being unscripted. The moment you can not trust the immediacy of sport -- that it is real, happening now, and that either team can win -- it loses all appeal.
OK, enough for now. Believe it or not, I have a little more to say about UFC, but I have to go. More next time. Then maybe I'll get back to Winnipeg.