Darryl Dennis/Icon SMI
It's a little easier to say MMA isn't cruel when you're the baddest heavyweight on the planet.
"This sport is not brutal but very interesting," he says. "It includes all types of martial arts. Everything that all men do, all that attracts them to martial arts, is contained here in mixfight. It can be tough but not cruel."
But it is exactly that -- a cruel, unforgiving sport that treats its participants like telephone poles treat accelerating cars. It's a form of consensual brutality, sure; whereas violence typically denotes an unwilling party, fighters recognize the trouble they can find themselves in. But you cannot look at a ring canvas after 10 fights and call it abstract art. There's nothing abstract about it.
What I don't follow is the need for the sport's supporters to homogenize things. Fighters are sliced open -- sometimes to the bone -- concussed, frequently injured and otherwise put through a physical gauntlet that would alarm a trauma center. Mercifully, the damage is nominally limited to superficial wounds, not the kind of life-rattling punishment suffered by boxers. (Watching a Spike broadcast of "Facing Ali," with the number of retired punchers who needed subtitles to be understood, was maddening.) But it's still a hurt business, and there's nothing wrong with acknowledging it.