MMA 101: Is all fair in the name of blood and entertainment?

Ever wonder where to draw the line in the sand in the debate of fairness and the American Disability Act? The mixed martial arts (MMA) debut of the quadruple-amputee, Kyle Maynard, last weekend has sparked quite a controversy in the MMA world all around the U.S. How was it possible for him to fight another guy with four normal limbs when he is missing all of them? Take a look at the video:


You can easily see that the fight was not much of a challenge for Maynard's opponent, Bryan Fry. If anything, Fry was trying not to hurt Maynard but still make it look like a fight for three strange rounds. The judges decision to award Fry the win was everything but a surprise. The real question now is, how and why was this bout even on the fight card?

The answer is simple, yet ridiculous: since the fight took place in Auburn, Ala. Maynard was not required to obtain a fighting license. Apparently, Alabama does not yet worry that much about the well being of the fighters. Maybe this fight will change that. Maybe it won't.

A similar case drew the attention of the MMA crowd in Tampa to the Florida Boxing Commission last year when the single-leg amputee, Brandon Holiday, petitioned for a professional license to fight in the Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) in Tampa. Even though no official statement was released by the governing body for MMA in Fla., the case remained 'under review.' Did the Fla. Boxing Commission avoid an official refusal of a fighter's license for Holiday to avoid political backlash, or can they simply not make up their minds?

No matter the reason for the seriously delayed processing of the request, one thing is certain: Holiday would have had a better shot of defending himself in the octagon than Maynard.

Common sense begs for comparison and the highly unlikely event of Maynard emerging victorious from his bout made this whole spectacle not only tasteless, but seriously unfair and dangerous for Maynard.

All political correctness aside, sports is not all about treating everyone the same. Rather it is about applying fair rules for competition which protect and ensure the fair outcome of the contest. Without this concept one can hardly call the Maynard vs. Fry bout sports. In fact it reminds me of the gladiator fights in old Rome which all served the mere purpose of entertaining the masses. Anyone entertained by the Maynard spectacle please raise their hands. Did not think so.

Even if anyone does not know anything about MMA, it should be obvious that this was not a real fight. To make it crystal clear, though, here are the different ways to win a bout in MMA:

  1. Submission: arm bar, leg bar, choke. This requires the full use of limbs.
  2. Knock out: hard punch or kick that results in the opponent's loss of consciousness.
  3. Technical knock out (TKO): the opponent cannot continue the fight due to injury or lack of defense.
  4. Decision: the judges score the bout based on activity, damage, and control throughout the fight.

Let's be honest: None of these options were even remotely possibly for Maynard.

I am all for making adjustments which allow anyone with a disability beat the odds. However, it should be for the benefit of the person, and not simply to be fair at all cost, no matter the outcome.


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