MMA is just Thuper, thanks for asking!

Had to go with an old South Park joke for the title because I'm typing about a critism that is an old joke. I love the fights. I love watching it on TV and going to live shows when I get the chance. I love watching mixed martial arts (MMA) and have been to a few small local events. I also love chatting about MMA as long as it doesn't devolve into the "this guy could totally beat up this guy" idiocy. Even though we are talking about fighting, there's no need to fight over it.

So I brought up the subject in an online forum and after a few intelligent and pretty cool response this popped up:

I feel the same way about MMA that I do about pro wrestling: gay porn for closet cases who want to watch muscular guys with groomed body hair get sweaty and roll around.

Now, this is normally the beginning of the end of these discussions and the start of nasty flame wars, but I wanted to keep a lid on it. I've seen this criticism before and it usually comes from people who have never actually watched any MMA. I inquired if the person who made the comment had indeed watched any MMA, and got the response:

Yes, and it’s exactly like watching gay wrestling pornos with bigger budgets. And no c***sucking.

Having myself, my students and much of my family called a bunch of "closet cases" was nearly worth it to have this guy admit his expertise in the area of "gay wrestling pornos" and I do wonder if his biggest beef with MMA is the lack of c***sucking. Still, I did have someone say on my now deactivated Facebook account that the sport was homoerotic, which is ridiculous of course, but had me thinking about the argument.

MMA is fightsport, pure and simple. So why do people consider it homo-erotic? I think there's a few reasons.

First, pure ignorance. Some people may hear about it or see a picture and see two guys with no shirts, and that's all they can come up with. This is where a lot of the comparisons with professional wrestling comes from, but to be fair there have been crossovers between MMA and professional wrestling with various wrestlers either giving the sport a shot (like Dan Severn, Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley) or fighters making some money on the pro-wrestling circuit (like Ken Shamrock, Paul Varlens and Tank Abbott). There's also some confusion about the ground game, which was quite common in the early days of Ultimate Fighting Championships. Those notions and confusion are quickly dispelled once these people get a better understanding of MMA.

Second, there are people who view everything in some sort of sexual manner. I had a professor for a crime and violence in literature class back in college who was seeing sexual elements in some of the stories we read that had the majority of class wondering what on earth she was talking about. Nice lady, but she got quite a few odd stares from me. Its the same here. Good old Freud. If he only knew how much comedy who come from his theories.

Third, there are people who are just turned on by two guys fighting. Not my thing, and I don't think it needs anymore explanation, so let's move along.

Lastly, there are people who feel threatened by it's existence. I see it in pseudo-intellectuals who like be elitist and use there smarts to try to set themselves above the masses. Along comes MMA. Its primal, physical and often brutal. The pseudo-intellectual elitist has no purchase. His reason and vaunted supposed brainpower can't compare in popularity with what is now one of the most popular sports in the world. He feels above it, so he can't dignify himself with actual understanding of this base thing. He must decry it. He must bring it low to show the thug masses that they are fools for liking it. As such he goes for the insult of choice for middle schoolers: "its gay". A pathetic attack really, but it strikes at testosterone driven love of fighting, so it occasionally gets a rise out of fans. More mature fans of the sport can just look at these fools and laugh. Smart folks know that they don't know everything and there's a lot of very intelligent people among the fans of MMA.

I'm not going to say that MMA is for everyone. There's plenty of people who have a hard time watching fights and fightsport. Still, if it's not your bag, or you don't really understand it, that's fine. No one's going to judge you. You don't have to slander it. And if you're trying to slander it by calling it "gay", really, who's the homophobe in that equation?

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