It has been a difficult time for fans of mixed martial arts in Ireland over the past week or so.
Following the tragic death of Joao Carvalho - an incident that affected not just Irish MMA but the global community of the sport - there have been a number of incredibly frustrating attacks on mixed martial arts from people who have absolutely no clue as to what they are talking about.
Carvalho’s death has highlighted the need for greater regulation of MMA in Ireland and more cooperation between the Irish Sports Council and the Irish MMA community. That said, the endless number of editorials decrying the sport have served no purpose whatsoever.
Whether it’s been from political or business correspondents for national newspapers, scaremongering phone-in radio discussions or shameless tabloid headlines, MMA has been attacked from all angles in the Irish media over the last week.
Now that the dust has settled on the debate, we present the five most common opinions you’ll find an bullshit anti-MMA post.
"I don't watch it myself, but..."
"...I hear they choke each other unconscious! Isn't it just desperate!?" You're right, desperate is what it is … sure hasn't the whole country gone to the dogs?
The amount of people who are so far up their own arse that their need to distance themselves from the sport they are calling for to be banned/talking down on outweighs their need to sound credible has been truly staggering.
Imagine if someone was brought onto an evening radio show to discuss Jamie Vardy's charging by the FA, and they said "Well, I didn't watch the game, but I heard Vardy said some horrible things to the ref." They would be laughed off the airwaves. And yet, that is what we have been subjected to last week: criticism from people who have never even watched the sport.
"It's not a sport!" or "So-called sport..."
An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
There's your definition for a sport. Sounds a lot like MMA to me, but just while we're here let's consider the fact that MMA is an amalgamation of Olympics sports in Boxing, Taekwondo, Judo, and Wrestling, as well as the likes of Karate, Taekwondo, and Jiu-Jitsu.
Particularly frustrating is the idea that MMA is barbaric - and thus not a sport - whereas as a rugby fan I am subjected with worrying regularity to slow-motion shots of various acts of borderline barbarism. Rugby fans, in my experience, are often the first to make the ‘barbarism’ point, which seems ironic. The sport has struggled to banish its own more barbaric elements. Comments made by Eddie Jones about Johnny Sexton this year or the tackle on Dave Kearney by Guirado in the Six Nations make you wonder about if the sport is clear from the ‘one person trying to intentionally hurt another’ tag.
The easiest way to let everyone know you are absolutely full of it, is to compare a sport where two fully consenting adults contest a fight in which both, at any given time, have the possibility to stop the fight, to the priming of gamecocks to compete in a fight to the death.
There's hyperbole, and then there's absolute bollocks.
The kids are bringing the MMA moves to the playground.
First and foremost, children will playfight. I was first exposed to the sport of MMA at 11 years old when I played the UFC video game on PlayStation (I thought it was crap but that's neither here not there). For years beforehand I had been utterly obsessed with the world of the WWF (now the WWE) and would routinely practice my moves on my friends, usually on trampolines thus taking the Mrs. Lovejoy outrage up another notch... but never once did anyone get hurt.
Kids will mimic what they see on TV, that is pretty much a fact, but they are not totally stupid and know full well how to avoid injuring one of their pals. If a child tries to justify punching or kicking one of their peers by saying they saw it on TV, then that is a failure on the parent.
I have been watching combat sports since I first saw 'The Karate Kid' as a four-year-old boy. Worried that I may injure myself attempting the iconic 'crane kick' from that film, my parents sat me down and explained the differences between what professionals do on TV, and what I can do in my living room or to other people. Maybe that is what should be done rather than attempt to have a sport banned.
And why are these kids up at 3am watching the main card of a UFC event in Las Vegas anyway? And if your kids are watching these clips on social media, why aren't you monitoring their internet usage?
Murder is the killing of another human being without justification or valid excuse, and it is especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought.
Cop on to yourself.
Aside from being an utterly insensitive and frankly abhorrent accusation of blame on the other fighter (whether deliberate or not) when something such as the tragic events of last weekend take place, it's just incorrect.
No fighter enters the octagon, or ring, with the intention to seriously harm his opponent. Despite what may be said for the pay-per-view promos, but they do so with the knowledge that there is a real chance of serious injury. It is extremely rare that injuries sustained in a fight result in death, and as has been pointed out ad nauseam in recent weeks the sports of horse racing and cheerleading have far higher figures in that regard. Still, it can happen.
That is not to say "shit happens" and accept the loss of life as part of the sport. There absolutely does need to be forward steps taken regarding the regulation of the sport in this country, and in amateur competition in particular, but MMA is not going to go away because of Joao Carvalho's death, as further evidenced by his brother's comments in the face of the news that the first MMA event to be held in Dublin following the incident would be cancelled:
We must fight for our sport, our passion, and cancelling this doesn't do anything good for the MMA community. If my brother were alive, he would come and fight on this show. Please do not cancel this show, it's not what my brother wanted.
This entire piece is not to suggest that 'if you haven't got anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all', but rather a plea that if you are going to attack a sport that is quickly becoming one of the most popular in Ireland, then do us all a favour and do some research first.