So I started watching this reality TV show called The Ultimate Fighter. 16 mean beat the living crap out of each other for 6 weeks in the hopes of getting a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Now having seen some of these fights I had some assumptions about these men. Seeing rather large men use kicks, punches, elbows, chokes, and body slams to pound each other into submission I would ask myself, why do they do this? What's their motivation? Do they like it? So I watched the whole season of this show and am going to watch the finale tonight. I'm glad to say that nothing I thought about these men was true.
If you'd like to see a UFC fight just go to YouTube and search ultimate fighting--maybe Quinton Rampage Jackson, Forrest (I can't remember his last name), or even Kimbo Slice. These episodes are not for the faint of heart however. Quinton Jackson is known for a particularly brutal knockout where he lifted the man above his head and slammed him on the ground, pretty much instantly knocking him out. Kimbo was a backyard bare knuckle champion who's just recently made the jump to primetime TV and mixed artial arts fights. Seeing these fights it's hard not to assume certain things about these men, that they're unfeeling, uncaring, probably a little mysoginistic, and most likely have some serious issues. I was completely unprepared for the reality.
A lot of these men have had very difficult lives and often have nowhere else to go. Kimbo was living in his car, trying to figure out how to support several children without resorting to robbing people when he became a bodyguard and someone offered him $5000 to fight a guy who was kind of a neighborhood bully. Others, as their stories unfold on the show, are in similar situations--not really trained for anything, were always good at wrestling or boxing, etc.--and they view this as a chance to move up. Here's the 2 things that really stood out.
I can't ever imagine enjoying fighting someone, brutally inflicting pain, so I wondered if they really liked it. It turns out they do! They truly view it as a sport, like baseball or soccer. As I learned more about the fighting styles they bring to each match I was kind of amazed at how complex it is (and how simple it might look, paradoxically). American wrestling approaches the human body very differently from jiu jitsu. Muay Thai kickboxing uses the body very differently from traditional boxing. But all these styles would come together and for the aficionado it can be very interesting to see how each fighter uses their own strengths against their opponent. I imagine there must also be some kind of adrenaline rush involved, as well as some emotional release. This last element is true for some, not all. They're not all angry men who've found a socially sanctioned way to release their anger and pain. Many of them just truly enjoy.
And second, these men, who must seriously have sky high levels of testosterone, are the most affectionate and tender American men I've ever seen. As the show wore on friends would be put in the ring (an eight sided ring with chain link fencing around the outside instead of ropes) with friends. They all showed the utmost respect to each other in the ring and after it was over, even if they didn't exactly like each other in the ring, they would hug each other, impart an encouraging/nurturing word, or otherwise show some sign of respect. And here's the thing that really shocked me--in the fight that decided who would go to the finals, the two men were good friends and they had a really brutal match. During each fight the other fighters would cheer on one of the fighters or hoot and howl, but this match was so intense that they were all quiet because they couldn't believe how they were going at each other. At the end of the match the winner gave the loser a kiss on his cheek! And then, on the live finale this past weekend, there was another match with two guys, who were really talking smack about each other before the fight, and the loser (who'd also knocked someone out by slamming him on the ground in a previous fight) gave the winner a kiss on his cheek too! I can't remember the last time I've seen two men show such tenderness towards each other, particularly after fighting each other.
I guess I say all this to say that when we talk about men and how they act, or any such large category of people, it's impossible to generalize. Or, in this case, you might have your a*# handed to you. jk.