Sunday, November 18, 2012

Should Christians Watch UFC?

First off what is the MMA and UFC?

MMA = Mixed Martial Arts
UFC = Ulitmate Fighting Championship

UFC is essential one of the organization that organizes and hosts MMA events. Just like the NFL hosts Football events.

Ok, So what is MMA?

From Webster's...
: a contact sport that allows a wide range of fighting techniques including striking, kicking, and grappling
Ok, So what isn't MMA...
* MMA is not a death sport.
* MMA is not a throwback to the gladiator days of Rome.
* MMA is not violence for the sake of violence.

Isn't UFC and MMA Simply a violent sport where participants are rewarded for injuring their opponent? 
No. Not even close. The goal of MMA is not to hurt your opponent but simply to either get him to submit, causing him to tap the canvas or his opponent which indicates that he gives up, or render him unable to continue temporarily. This is either done by KO (Knock Out) or TKO (Technical Knock Out). A TKO takes place when the referee determines the fighter is not defending himself intelligently and steps in which gives victory to the striking opponent.. There is NO 10-count. Once you cannot go on, even if temporarily, you are done and the match is over.
So do you see why this is considered much safer than boxing? In boxing, once an opponent is down the ref starts a 10-count. If the boxer recovers enough to go on, he is back on his feet fighting, whether he is injured or not.. this can happen numerous times in the match which has the potential to cause a much more severe injury than if the match was simply over at the time the fighter could not go on.
The safety record of MMA and specifically the UFC have improved greatly since it's outset in 1993. This is due to regulation, and a very high attention to the safety of the fighters. There have been 0 deaths in the UFC and very few long term injuries. This article from the NYT explains it well.. 

We think of more traditional violent sports like boxing and football as safer in part because of the helmets and padded gloves their athletes wear, and that supposedly protect them from harm. These are, in fact, more like the equivalent of poorly designed sunscreen — “protection” that allows athletes to submit to even greater levels of punishment.
For instance, studies show that up to 40 percent of former boxers have symptoms of chronic brain injury, the result of repeated, if padded, blows to the head. And recent studies have demonstrated that most professional boxers, including the majority who show no outward signs of impairment, have some degree of brain damage.
In comparison, a 2006 Johns Hopkins study noted “a reduced risk of traumatic brain injury in M.M.A. competitions when compared to other events involving striking.” The reason is simple: Boxing’s “protective” padding, coupled with its 12-round bouts and rest periods, means the boxer is subject to dozens of brain-jostling head blows in each fight. In M.M.A., most bouts end in a wrestling match, with one opponent forcing the other into submission; only 28 percent of all M.M.A. bouts are decided by a blow to the head, according to a study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.
As a result, M.M.A. fighters have not only a lower risk of cognitive impairment, but of death. There have been only three fatalities in the 17-year history of American M.M.A. But we average almost that many in a single year in boxing: 129 fighters have died in American rings since 1960.
Ok, So Should Christians watch UFC?

The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 10
23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his [i]neighbor....
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

All throughout that chapter Paul talks about religious freedom and conscience. If the violent nature of this SPORT does not sit well with your conscience, you should NOT watch UFC or MMA or probably Boxing, Hockey, or Football for that matter. But that is the point. Whatever does not hinder you from your constant daily walk with Christ is permissible. But if you are unable to see past the sporty and artful combat-based nature of the sport, then it is your duty to not watch and to not participate in it.
But for those that see it in the light of athletes buffeting their body, crafting their skills, using the tools of their brain, and their God-given ability in order to best their opponent then there is absolutely nothing wrong with watching it. Like stated before, It truly is safer than most other contact sports. In fact, There are many Christians who fight in the UFC. One example is a UFC fighter that I know of that has squeezed a prayer and quick testimony into his closing comments to the fans and to the millions watching at home. It was a great moment. I've seen him win and he said "To God be the Glory" and I saw him lose and he told the crowd "To God be the Glory". That is what that crowd needs to hear.

Conclusion is simple:
--If you see UFC as a safe, although violent sport, and watching it does not hinder your walk with the One True God and Creator of all things.. then it is as permissible as watching a football game or even basketball.

--If, on the other hand, you feel that the sport is too violent in nature and watching it does not feel right with your conscience, or watching it causes you to stumble in sin of any kind, then you should absolutely NOT watch UFC.

Finally if you are a watcher of UFC, and watching it would cause someone in your presence to stumble, then you should not watch it. Tape it and watch it later like I do :)

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