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Sport

UFC – Permission to play dirty?

Is the UFC driven by the love for the sport or the lust for its scandal?

The UFC is one of the most viral sports in the world today, with powerful knockouts and unreal submissions. It’s like wrestling on steroids but without the rehearsals. It’s very popular and continues to grow with each pay-per-view event and with huge stars such as Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, there’s always a reason to watch two men fight it out to become the Ultimate Fighter. The McGregor/Nurmagomedov bout was one of the most anticipated events of 2018 with the contrast of McGregor’s huge ego with Nurmagomedov’s humbleness creating a struggle between hero and villain worthy of a Hollywood script; it was a fight you couldn’t miss.

The pre-fight warm ups were full of trash talking, with each party insulting pride, honour and even families. It became highly personal for each fighter. The sold out fight took place on October 6th in Las Vegas and it was a brutal affair, with both competitors giving all that they can for the Lightweight title. During the fight, McGregor was playing dirty by glove holding (which is illegal) throughout the rounds and Nurmagomedov was fired up.

So once he defeated McGregor via submission in the fourth round, he scaled the walls of the Octagon, attacking McGregor’s team in the audience. It was a huge brawl with members of the crowd joining in the fight; all the while McGregor was still in the Octagon – himself attempting to shrug off an attack from Nurmagmedov’s trainer. It was utter chaos, even for a UFC match.

Sport, especially with wrestling, boxing and UFC, has a long history of trash talking, from the classic mum jokes to targeting deep personal issues. But sometimes it can go too far and bring things too close to home (as we saw with Nurmagomedov’s incident).

Now yes, we all love to see these moments unfold on live TV but Nurmagomedov was so filled with frustration that not even a fist fight could relinquish his anger. Is it time for rules to be brought in about trash talking in terms of how far it can be allowed to go? I’m not sure, but I know that trash talking is all about getting under an opponent’s skin to strike fear into your enemy. And I think that you are allowed to say what you like in order to give you an advantage. Yes, I look up to players and fighters who are humbler like Nurmagomedov, but it doesn’t make for interesting television. Sportspeople will capitalise on their audience to get the most attention and in more instances than not, give them a slight advantage.

I do not believe what Nurmagomedov did was right, but McGregor ignited this feud with his pre-match trash talking. It was an event that went viral because of it, thus bringing them more fame, money and notoriety. In some ways, it’s the ugly side of the sport, not the sport itself, that’s accountable for it popularity.