by Pa Rock
Observer of Mindless Violence
Last might me and most of the other faux white trash in the Phoenix area converged on the Celebrity Theatre to enjoy an evening of cage fightin'! The majority of the crowd looked as though they were probably professionals during the day - lawyers, realtors, car dealers, drug dealers - who donned their grunge garb at sundown and were out for an evening of slumming.
"Kick his ass!"
I won tickets for the event at work on Friday and was determined to expand my cultural horizons, no matter how many caged humans had to die in the process.
"Pound his head!"
It was definitely an interesting experience, and while the blood-lust was present, especially as the cold beer flowed, the actual blood never materialized. I had visions of pairs of grown men locked in a cage by themselves, ripping off limbs and breaking bones, as they worked out their unresolved Mother issues, but what actually transpired was something much more controlled.
"Punch him in the belly! Beat him to a pulp!"
The cage was an octagonal affair of what looked to be vinylized chain-link fence, approximately fifteen feet in diameter and six feet in height. The evening featured thirteen matches in the cage, each consisting of two size-matched aggressors and a referee.
"Hurt him! Make him cry!"
For the uninitiated (of which I was one until last night), cage fighting is a mix of boxing, kick boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts. The fighters wear shorts and leather gloves with the fingers missing. They do not wear shoes or any form of head gear. The fights can go three rounds where the winner is decided by two officials sitting on opposite sides of the cage scoring the violence, or it can end early by a process called "submission." I never did figure out what exactly constituted a submission, but it appeared to be something like getting pinned in wrestling - a hold that the poor wretch on the mat or up against the chain-link can't break.
"Kiss him if you ain't gonna hit him!"
Most of the fighters were young kids, age 18 and above, with fighting weights between 130 and 160 pounds. Others were older with weights over 200 pounds. Tattoos were common, especially among the older fighters. Many were from fighting clubs in the Phoenix area.
"Chris Brown his ass!"
Cage fighting is like "professional" wrestling in that it has an entertainment focus. One of the local television stations was filming the event for midnight viewing later in the week. The crowd was constantly encouraged to make noise. Noise wasn't a problem in the area where I was sitting. Several drunken young men were busy seeing who could be the loudest and the funniest.
"Break his nose! Send him home ugly! Okay, send him home uglier!"
Cage fighting differs from "professional wrestling" in that it is real. These fighters work hard and are invested in winning. Generally, however, they begin and end the match as gentlemen, shaking hands with their opponents or even giving each other a man hug as they exit the cage. They end the night banged up and bruised, and the elation or disappointment that they leave with is very real.
"Bust his head! Bust his damned head!"
While most leave with their heads held high, even in defeat, there was one eighteen-year-old who stormed out of the cage, angry, after a close decision that didn't go his way. The crowd took note of his petulance, and my guess is that they will remind him of his immaturity in his next fight. To its credit, a large chunk of this activity seems to revolve around good sportsmanship. That may be due to the strong infusion of Oriental discipline through the martial arts component.
"Kick him in the nuts!"
And cage fighting - while I didn't see any blood - is truly dangerous. The blows were often vicious, coming both from fists and feet. One fighter might find himself pinned to the mat while being face-pummelled by his opponent - with the referee standing by and calmly watching. As someone who has a professional knowledge of Traumatic Brain Injury, I suspect that some of these young men will find themselves in a state of permanent punchiness sooner rather than later in life.
"Slam him! Slam him hard!"
I found this activity to be almost a guilty pleasure. It was very hard to watch at times, yet it was also hard not to watch. America has a fascination with car wrecks and mindless violence, and, in this regard at least, I'm a red, white, and blue-blooded, shit kickin' American!
"Hey, which one of you bitches drank my beer?"