The UFC and our own Mixed Martial Arts fight


CAN A WRESTLER BEAT A BOXER? Or can a jiu-jitsu fighter submit a kick boxer?

Answers to sports fans’ questions like these were once just purely speculative. But not until the emergence of the phenomenal Mixed Martial Arts which makes it possible to pit different fighting styles against each other. Abbreviated as MMA, this full contact combat sport uses a wide variety of fighting techniques including different forms of striking and various types of grappling.

The idea of combining various combat disciplines was popularized by Bruce Lee in the late 1960s. It was just in 1990s however when the sport began to garner international exposure and widespread publicity after the relatively small Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Royce Gracie unexpectedly dominated the three of the first four Ultimate Fighting Championship events, proving that technique can compensate for size disadvantage.

Staging bouts in an octagonal caged enclosure called “the Octagon” and implementing some rules for the safety of the athletes, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was launched as a MMA tournament aiming to find the world’s best fighters irrespective of their martial arts discipline. Due to its originality, realism, wide press coverage, and increased cooperation with state athletic commission, the UFC remarkably became a hit on pay-per-view and home video. Currently enjoying a notable surge in fame, the UFC, reports the Wikipedia, “broke the pay-per-view industry's all-time records for a single year of business, generating over $222,766,000 in revenue during 2006, surpassing World Wrestling Entertainment and boxing.” As its programming is now shown in more than 30 countries worldwide, the UFC continues its swift ascent from being “an almost unknown MMA show” to having graced the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine, its fighters like Randy “the Natural” Couture and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson having played key roles in some Hollywood big films. No wonder therefore that today, not a few youth around the world, males and females alike, either avidly check on MMA shows or even train to fight in MMA competitions.

Unaware as many of us God’s children may be, we too are inevitably engaged in a brutal form of fight. In fact, our opponent is neither amateur nor lightweight. “Murderer from the beginning” as he is (John. 8:44), our enemy must definitely be an expert in all fighting styles. Hence, in our “fight of the faith” (I Tim. 6:12), Apostle Peter warns us, thus:

”Be careful – watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy…” (I Pet. 5:8, Living Bible)

What makes Satan or the Devil a tough rival is that he is the grandmaster in “evil tricks” (Efe. 6:11) and “wicked deceits” (Rev. 13:14). We therefore have to be extra vigilant, for when he feels he will be defeated, he would, figuratively speaking, resort to illegal techniques like head butting, eye gouging, biting, and the likes. Worse, he respects no referee and cares not about judges’ decision that he would attack us even after the horn has sounded the end of a round or even during the break. He would go as far as illicitly using a foreign object in the ring to his advantage just to submit or knock us out. In other words, he would do harm in our faith in ways unpredictable and in places and times we don’t expect, if only to be able to eventually ground or take us down to the lake of fire where he is destined to be cast (Rev. 20:10). Having plenty of snares to clinch us (I Tim. 3:7), his assaults are not limited inside the Octagon, for he “roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (I Pet. 5:8) especially today that“he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:12)

So how shall we train to defeat the enemy? What should we do to improve our conditioning and perk up our stamina? Paul the apostle coaches us, thus:

“Build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God's armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy's attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.(Eph. 6:10-13, Today’s English Version)

To work out to be “strong” is to allow “the word of God lives in us” (I John 2:14). Andthe moment our brawl against the enemy is under way, we are instructed never to “tap out” nor “throw towel into the ring”, but to “fight the good fight of the faith” and “take hold of the eternal life to which [we] were called” (I Tim. 6: 12). This game plan is executed by “pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” and “keeping the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Tim. 6:11, 14). Inexperienced as young Christians are, we are taught to use technique which could overcome this disadvantage:

“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity.”(I Tim. 4:12, TEV)

Yes, fighting a good fight of the faith necessarily includes submitting ourselves, though not to the Devil whom we should resist. Themselves specialists in this type of ‘combat’, the apostles direct us:

“So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you.” (James 4:7, TEV)

It is therefore the ardent wish of the apostles that in each of our bout, the outcome is not just a draw, let alone our defeat, but we emerging as the victor. May our “MMA record” be also that of the youth of the first century Christians when they were congratulated by the apostle John, thus: 

“I write to you, young men, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One.”(I John 2:14, TEV)

So, are you ready? Let’s get it on!

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