Magazine article The Christian Century

Blood Sport

Magazine article The Christian Century

Blood Sport

Article excerpt

MY ALLEGIANCE is to 'Jesus Christ, who stood up and died for our sins.'" That was the keynote comment of a victorious Randy Couture, third-time winner of last spring's heavyweight belt in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the politically and theologically conservative World magazine (September 29), Mark Bergin calls the UFC "the worlds' leading purveyor of mixed martial arts, a bloody and brutal sport." Many teen boys, says Bergin, are so engrossed with the bloody sport that parents are worrying about its ethics and morality. Not to worry, say some, since Couture and others "use their public platform to share Christian testimonies."

The letterhead of one blood sporter sports praise of Jesus: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). Another's text is "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." That's appropriate, since the gloves in this ultimate blood sport leave the fingers exposed.

Among the UFC'S critics is Senator John McCain, who calls this no-holds-barred bloodletting "human cockfighting" and helped force passage of regulations which, in some states at least, rule out "kicks to a downed opponent, eye-gouging... strikes to the groin, spine, or back of the head." World offers samples of human-cockfighting theological witness (italicized below):

Young people need discipline in their lives, and mixed martial arts gives them exactly that (Jason Barrett, British fighter, Pentecostal preacher).

I am not out there to try to hurt my opponent. I don't go out there angry. I don't try to maim hint or something. I just go out there and try to win" (Ron Waterman, fighter and preacher with Team Impact).

I always pray that God's will is done before a fight and, as long as that's done, I'm happy and I'll definitely fight again" (Matt Hughes, nine-time UFC world title holder). …

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