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Ultimate fighting is ultimately safe [Letter]

Mixed Martial ArtsBoxingUltimate Fighting Championship

Letter writer Patrick Lynch and others with the same mindset ("UFC is borderline barbarism," April 29) should know that the UFC has been around since 1993 and there has yet to be a single death inside the Octagon or a fighter who has died due to their injuries from fighting in the Octagon. To the ill-informed, mixed martial arts is not a sport because it seems like fights like this happen every day on the streets and bars across the globe. My question is, what makes something a sport? A commonly accepted definition is "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment to participants, and in some cases, spectators." Here's another definition which is commonly accepted: "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature." Does mixed martial arts not require physical exertion? Does it not require skill? Do participants not compete against one another with rules set in place? Are they not athletes? Or do men like Mr. Lynch and others simply dislike the fact that MMA and Ultimate Fighting Championship are different from what they are used to?

Yes, two men enter an enclosed cage and they fight until one man submits, gets knocked out or surrenders by tapping out or verbally submitting to the referee. OK, let's say that MMA is barbaric, archaic and dangerous as Mr. Lynch accuses it to be. Let's say one day there is a death in the UFC, which I agree with Mr. Lynch it is inevitable, but so what? What does that say about MMA and the UFC if one day a fighter dies in the Octagon or dies due to injuries said fighter sustained from a UFC sanctioned fight? Will that finally prove Mr. Lynch's point that it is barbaric and dangerous? If so, riddle me this: Has there even been a death in the NFL? Has there ever been an NFL player who died while preparing to play an NFL game? The answer to both is yes, so does that make the NFL barbaric? Should the game be condemned because these men died playing the game or even preparing for a season of football?

To find a sport more similar to MMA and the UFC, look no further than boxing where two combatants punch each other in the head and body until one can no longer stand. How is boxing any less "barbaric" than the UFC? In boxing, verbally submitting and quitting is seen as an act of cowardice so a man would rather take unnecessary punishment than admit defeat. In the UFC, the mindset is different — the athletes in the UFC are all OK with submitting to their opponents. Admitting defeat and verbally submitting is not seen as an act of cowardice and is not frowned upon like it is in boxing. Now looking at deaths, the UFC has been around for almost 21 years and there's yet to be a single death. Boxing sees numerous deaths per year. In fact, since 1920 until today, there have been over 900 boxers who have died (professional and amateur) due to injuries suffered in the ring, yet where is the outcry? In the U.S., from 1993 until 2011, there have been three deaths from injuries sustained in an MMA fight (not UFC sanctioned fights). That's an average of 0.17 deaths per year. Boxing in the U.S. averages 2.7 deaths per year — almost as many as MMA has since it's inception. Why is boxing not condemned and under the same scrutiny? In fact, John Hopkins University came out in 2006 with a study clearly stating that the sport of MMA was safer than boxing and no more dangerous than American football.

All one needs is an open mind to see that the UFC is as safe, if not more so, than any of the other popular male-dominated sports in the world such as boxing, NFL, soccer and so forth. While what Mr. Lynch wrote was simply his opinion, there is no shortage of evidence to contradict it.

Touhoua Yang

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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