Tom Caru writes in defence of “Safety Fence” fighting…by which he means cage fighting, a term that is essentially media-fuelled BS when used to describe MMA.


I am just about the farthest thing from whatever you would imagine as someone who is involved in “cage fighting“, which actually would be entirely accurate since I’m not one. I have, however, been punched in the nose, choked and kicked repeatedly in a sporting context.

Over the weekend you might have caught a Herald Sun article about the latest uproar regarding legalising mixed martial arts (MMA) fights in the octagon-shaped “cage”. Please take special note of the inverted commas around the word cage – I’ve included these deliberately to highlight the fact that I’m not talking about an actual cage in the traditional sense of the word.

Nobody is trapped inside. The contestants are trained athletes, not slaves. There isn’t even a roof on the “cage”; a velociraptor could just jump right out! #ROAAAAAARRRR

So, really, a more apt description would be “fence”.

Unfortunately ‘”fence fighting” isn’t as shocking as “cage fighting” in terms of getting enough headline for the front page.

The octagon-shaped fence that surrounds the boxing style platform is for the safety of the participants, not to heighten the spectacle for the crowd, which means an even more accurate description would be “safety fence”.

Suddenly the issue isn’t about condoning or glorifying bloodthirsty cage fighting (let’s just ignore the hundreds of contests that end without a drop of blood shed and include all the bloody photos we can find) but about the decision to finally allow the inclusion of the safety fence that was designed specifically for the sport itself.

You know, that sport in which participation was legalised years ago.

To further sow blood in the water, the media has established a trend of linking safety fence approval with condoning/encouraging domestic violence?

I have trained at four different MMA gyms to date; in Dublin, Vienna, Amsterdam and Wuppertal (Germany) and I can honestly say that in every one I had the pleasure of befriending some of the best human beings I have ever met. So please accept this writer’s humble opinion when I say that to tar every sportsman engaged in “cage fighting” with the same brush of implied misogynistic thuggery would be a gross injustice.

The other line that is being replayed more than Saturday night’s equaliser is that allowing the addition of the fence would be “glorifying violence”.

I am sorry, but violence and combat have been glorified for hundreds, if not thousands, of years…not to mention the attention it receives in popular culture.

How many Expendable movies are there now?

Even a pacifist would agree that Katniss Everdeen looks badass with a bow.

At least a mixed martial arts contest demonstrates the real physical cost of a fist fight, it doesn’t gloss over the pain or deliberately distance the viewer from the humanity of the combatants.

I’m not saying that MMA isn’t a dangerous and violent sport and I am certainly not saying I agree with the gladiatorial-themed marketing strategy of the UFC. I am saying that the issue at hand shouldn’t even be about the fighting.

It should be about the fence.

I would be more worried about promoting ignorance through inflammatory journalism than glorifying violence through sport. In the long run I think you will find that ignorance is far more dangerous. It is only ignorant people who see two athletes fighting and applaud the violence, not the skill, and it ignorant people who look at a fence and see a cage.

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