Sunday Sermon: Why Combat Sports Have Become A Circus

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also’
Roman’s 13:4

I’m not going to lie, I was fascinated with the pre-hype surrounding the Conor McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov fight.  And when Nurmagomedov took flight over the cage like The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, I jumped out of my seat and ran to the television for an even closer view of the post-fight mayhem.

I still won’t lie, the way these fights are sold to the viewing public, the build up, the press conferences and weigh-ins, it’s not surprising what happened last night, it was inevitable.

And as you can see, with the pre-festivities of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury this week, it’s no longer about athletics and sportsmanship, it’s about creating a Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey type atmosphere.

But who is to blame? It certainly isn’t the fighters, is it? Is it the promoters? Can you blame the fans and/or society? Honestly, they all play a hand in what has become more of an entertainment spectacle, and less of a sporting event.

Long before the UFC and decades before Mayweather, Muhammed Ali used many of these same tactics of trash talk, mental games and comedic brilliance.  Ali was a walking hype man for his fights and you either loved or hated him.  But Ali was making pennies and his future purses were based on what he did in previous fights. Plus, Ali understood that there was, hypothetically speaking, only one pie and he needed his slice.  Today, there are 1000 pies and the more crazy, egotistical and anxious you act, you pull revenue from more pies.

But what Ali also understood was that he was the only show in town.  There was no MMA/UFC in his day.  The NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL are 100 times bigger today then they were in Ali’s time.  Plus, the Olympics and Olympic athletes were held to a higher standard at one time.

Look, what happened last night is a product of our society.  Were a results driven, car/train/plane accident viewing culture,  It doesn’t matter if you’re brown, black, red, yellow, white, straight, gay, bi-sexual or Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner we thrive on action and the unthinkable.

Until they start taking money from the fighters, arresting them for their actions or fans stop showing up, nothing is going to change.  Mayweather built his whole career on being a showman and no matter how many people cried about his boring performances, he became one of the highest grossing athletes in the history of

sports because you and I kept buying the product.  Tyson was 10 times worse than Mcgregor and actually did some prison time, but still everyone rallied to see his events – even when he was a faded shell of his former self.

It isn’t about sports anymore, boxing and MMA have essentially become the WWE with its staged feuds and pre-fight antics.  The only thing real nowadays are the fights and most of the time, due to over-paying, fighters are more content with surviving another day instead of leaving it all in the ring/octagon.  What if all athletes were paid week- by-week, fight-by-fight, or based on performance?  Things might change but from the inside looking out with revenue at an all-time high, TV and streaming services shelling out millions and outrageous purses, the system isn’t broken, so why change it?

And…. what happened last night was ‘fooking’ awesome!!!

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