Australian newspaper blames MMA for 'string of savage street attacks' tied to 'Knockout Game' in U.S.

Chris Hyde

An Australian publication released an article this week questioning the popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) because of deaths tied to the popularity of UFC and the so-called "Knockout Game."

The Sydney Morning Herald recently released an article titled "Smash, Grapple and Choke: The Unstoppable Force of MMA" that left me shaking my head.

The piece focuses on the role of mixed martial arts (MMA) in two deaths that have occurred in Australia during the last 18 months and also features an interview with the NSW Police Commissioner where he compares the athletes that compete to crime scene photos.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the creative work:

"It's brutal, it breaks bodies and it's been blamed for a string of savage street attacks. So why is mixed martial arts the latest gym craze?"

In this quote, the article describes the advertising methods of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC):

"MMA has also enjoyed an as yet uninterrupted surge in popularity over the past 10 years - especially in its expression through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (a brand, not a discipline) which aggressively promotes its caged bouts with bloody advertisements, and rewards fighters with incentives for knockout strikes and maximal aggression. And, increasingly, MMA and UFC have coalesced in the public's mind as a source of infamy and disgust."

Tragically, this past holiday, a young man allegedly screamed something about being a fighter before beating another man. Prior to that, an MMA devotee "king hit" an innocent bystander, killing him. While this is terrible, what is the correlation between this incident and fighting inside a cage with medical staff on-site?

On New Year's Eve, Shaun McNeil, 25, boasted “I'm an MMA fighter” according to NSW Police, before allegedly putting Daniel Christie into a life-threatening coma, this on the same Kings Cross corner where, 18 months before, Kieran Loveridge, another MMA devotee, "king-hit" several defenseless passers-by before landing an ambush blow on Thomas Kelly, killing him.

And my favorite, the paragraph where the Police Commissioner does a bit of comparing.

Only weeks ago NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione - addressing the so-called "king-hit" culture, and a lethal craze in the US called “Knockout” where bystanders are struck unawares - said pictures of the discipline's fighters reminded him of “crime scene photos of victims of assaults on footpaths waiting to be treated by paramedics ...

See more on the so-called "Knockout Game" here.

Not everyone in Australia agrees with the negative connotations the article alleges MMA universally has. In a feature by Herald Sun also released today, four-time Olympic medalist Daniel Kelly leads a large group of people who are asking the government to overturn a ban on MMA in Melbourne.

Kelly believes he is on the verge of fighting under the UFC banner.

The ban revolves around a stance against fighting inside the Octagon "enclosure." Thus adding to the ridiculous attitude a select few who regulate the sport in the world's sixth largest country seem to have. UFC Director Tom Wright publicly said the cage ban was asinine.

"When the Formula One comes to town, they erect fences around downtown Melbourne to protect the fans and athletes, so I find it quite bewildering that they won't allow our enclosure."

If it's not one thing, then it's another.

Do those who cite MMA for such atrocities have a valid point? Or some sort of vendetta against a sport that was last seen "down under" on Dec. 7, 2013 for UFC Fight Night 33: "Hunt vs. Bigfoot?" See more of the "crime scene" argument here.

Where do you side?

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