'Smell the blood!' The sickening roar for gore


AFTERNOON at the Acer Arena. The shaft of light from the heavens cleaves the darkness and reveals the

sole focus of everyone's rapt attention. In an octagonal, caged enclosure, two men are hitting each other in the face, kicking each other in the head and furiously kneeing each other in the stomach.

Every blow, and its gory results, is blown up large on six enormous screens around the stadium as the sold-out 17,000-strong crowd, which includes James Packer sitting in a front-row seat, roars for more gore.

And more gore they get.

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Cain Velasquez moves in on Minotauro Nogueira in their heavyweight bout.

Now, one fighter, Stephan "the American Psycho" Bonnar, has started to bleed badly from a cut beneath his right eye, delighting his opponent's trainer.

"Smell the blood, baby!" he screams at his man, Krzysztof "the Polish Experiment" Soszynski. "Smell the blood!''

Within seconds Soszynski doesn't have to sniff too hard because, after a clash of heads, the blood from a new gash high on Bonnar's forehead is so deep that his red essence is gushing out of him and soon both fighters are covered in it from top to toe. This appears to interest the referee mildly, but no more than that. Still they go at it, and when Bonnar briefly goes down, the ref has to jump out of the way so that Soszynski can properly get at him, and bash him some more.

Welcome to something called the Ultimate Fighting Championship which, as well as claiming to be the world's fastest-growing sport, made its debut in Australia yesterday on a schedule suited to the American pay-per-view prime-time Saturday night audience.

A cross between Fight Club, rock'n'roll, a vicious bar-room brawl and the fall of Saigon, the idea is that this is "multi-discipline fighting" - across three five-minute rounds - incorporating everything from boxing to wrestling, kick-boxing to karate, judo to jujitsu to just

about anything else you can think of, including choke holds, and …

But now the blood pouring out of Bonnar's head is so copious the ring floor is slippery and even the referee thinks it's time to call the doctor. This worthy man checks Bonnar and ruefully shakes his head. The fight must be stopped.

BOO! BOOOO! BOOOOOO! Though we in the crowd feel badly let down and roar our extreme displeasure, the fact is there really are some rules - even if they owe less to the Marquis of Queensberry and more to the Marquis de Sade. It's not quite "anything goes". To be sure, the organisers of this $US250 million ($278 million) a year business are proud of the fact that the championship has cleaned itself up from its really wild days in Las Vegas in the early 1990s and has gone as far as to ban biting, eye-gouging and attacks to an opponent's groin. The fighters even have to wear light gloves, so they're not quite bare-knuckled.

And so the afternoon goes on, with nine vicious bouts and much blood spilt. About 30 police watch as the fighters continue to bash each other to a pulp. If it were to happen 100 metres away, on the street, those same police would have to arrest them for grievous bodily harm - though they'd take the precaution of calling for back-up first.

This is as far from professional wrestling's tightly choreographed theatrical fighting. These are deadly serious contests fought by highly skilled men. It's not everyone's cup of tea - and it will be the last bout I'll attend - but it looks like we might have moved into an age when tens of thousands of people no longer want cups of tea. They want buckets of blood.



That is some terrible writing.

How the hell did this person make it through journalism school? They write like a fifteen year old trying to sound professional for the high school newspaper. The entire article is soaked with hyperbole, shoddy research and generally poor writing, and that's without getting into content.

Fitzsimmons was a footballer, he's not a trained journalist as far as I know.

I don't think the piece was so bad.

I think it just showed he had a personal distaste for the sport but he still acknowledged some of the rules and admitted the fighters are highly skilled.

I have to admit I was a bit curious as to why the doc wasn't called in a bit earlier on Bonnars' cut, that thing was nasty.

Basically he gave the viewpoint of the first time observer, a person going to a new event and viewing it with virgin eyes.

He doesn't like MMA, oh well.