Sunday, June 01, 2008
We are as bloodthirsty as ever
I watched an ear explode Saturday night.
It took place during a mixed-martial arts fight between Kimbo Slice and James Thompson. The two fought in the main event of an Elite XC card on CBS.
Slice, who is an Internet legend for his backyard brawls, has become a spectacle in the MMA world. He won his first few fights, albeit against less-than-stellar competition, in spectacular fashion, all knockouts in the first round.
His fight Saturday was a different story. He was actually losing the fight going into the third and final round, when the unfortunate incident happened.
Slice's opponent, Thompson, had one of the worst cauliflower ears I've ever seen.
For those who don't know, a cauliflower ear is caused when the cartilage is damaged and fluid collects. The ear then thickens, and sometimes becomes unrecognizable.
While Slice was the reason people tuned in Saturday night, it was Thompson's ear that stole the show.
Every time Thompson ate a punch from Slice, his ear wiggled from the shock. A wiggling ear in slow motion is a sight to behold. My buddies and I were transfixed. We started calling Slice's punches "earwigglers."
Finally, Slice threw a right hook that caught Thompson square in his deformed ear, and it exploded. Blood spewed, and we all cringed in unison. It was spectacular.
I've been watching MMA since I was in high school, back when Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock were running the UFC, and I've never seen anything like that before.
We were all expecting Slice to punch it. Thompson's ear had a big bullseye on it, and it was just a matter of time before Slice exploited it.
After it was all over (Slice won by TKO in the third round), I started thinking about the spectacle that I just witnessed. Not the fight itself, but the experience of watching the fight in a crowded place with eight or nine friends.
It was akin to the scene in "Gladiator" where the crowd was rooting for death. Although the situation was not nearly that dire, we were just as bloodthirsty.
I'm not just the casual MMA fan. I enjoy the science the of the sport. My favorite fighters are B.J. Penn and Anderson Silva, who are brilliant technicians.
But like the casual fan, I love a good knockout, and I'm drawn to these circus acts, like Slice.
Let's face it, Slice isn't a top-level fighter. He's a brawler, who's milking his 15 minutes for all its worth.
The fact that I'm drawn to him, and so are millions of others, says a lot about our society as a whole.
It has been hundreds of years since gladiators fought to the death in the Coliseum. In that time, we've made astronomical advancements in every facet of our lives.
When it comes to our most basic, primal instincts, however, we haven't changed much. Although, we don't want to see anyone die, we certainly celebrate seeing someone knocked unconscious.