Mixed martial arts has come a long way from Senator John McCain once calling the sport ‘human cockfighting’ to these days when a superstar like Conor McGregor is selling out arenas and breaking pay-per-view records left and right.
As widely accepted as MMA has becoming in recent years, there are still plenty of detractors who still speak out against the sport as nothing more than unmitigated violence pitting fighters against each other in some sort of gladiatorial combat.
Former UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey — who has shattered more than her fair share of records as well — says that those opinions are simply uninformed and sports like MMA are largely beneficial to the masses because it provides a safe outlet for aggression.
“I think ignorance of the sport is the only real barrier that has to overcome. I think that a lot of people that are ignorant of it think it promotes violence when it really is the most responsible outlet for it,” Rousey said in an interview for the new documentary “The Hurt Business”.
“It’s a human instinct to fight. If you try to suppress it entirely and put everyone in a bubble wrapped society that’s when people end up going nuts and shooting up movie theaters. If any of those people had any of that aggression built up in them had some sort of outlet, I think that we would have a lot more societal health because of it.”
Rousey also points out that MMA is much more than two fighters stepping inside the cage together and slugging it out until one of them falls over.
Fighters like Rousey trained for years before competing professionally and in her case she even won a medal in the Olympics before transitioning to MMA as a career.
Rousey says if more people understood what actually goes into making a successful MMA fighter, no one would look at the sport as just violence begetting violence for the sake of the enjoyment of others.
“It’s not violence for the sake of violence,” Rousey said. “The word art is in it for a reason. When I go in there, yeah I’m fighting, but really what I’m trying to do is outsmart the other person. It’s a puzzle to be solved.
“I’m not just going in there and spazzing out and swinging my hands and lifting weights so I can swing my hands even harder. It’s more mental and tactical than anything else and I think it’s the purest and most beautiful sport in the world.”