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Blood in the Cage

Blood In The CageWhen L. Jon Wertheim first began talking with mixed martial arts fighters, one of the fighters asked Wertheim if he wanted his nose broken, just so he’d know what it was like to get hurt.
Given that introduction to the project, it’s a little surprising that Wertheim became such a fan of the sport. Because he is a fan. He describes the televised bouts in which men kick each other and knee each other in the head as “righteous,” and he maintains that mixed martial arts got a boost in the fall of 2001 because “after the September 11th attacks and the start of the war in Iraq, attitudes toward tough, aggressive American men generally improved.”

Fans of aggressive diplomacy and tough negotiation, beware.

The popularity of the televised bouts got another shot in the arm when the promoters helped produce a “reality” television show which featured fighters living together, getting drunk together, and engaging in such hilarious hijinks as urinating on each others’ mattresses. Wertheim also glorifies a bar brawl in which his heroes engage in “the mother of all street fights,” where “A Who’s Who of the Ultimate Fighting Championship…polluted drunk on the streets of London, began throwing haymakers indiscriminately.”

It’s not surprising that the spectacle Wertheim describes appeals to boys who are teenaged and boys who will always be teenaged. It is a little disappointing that a writer as accomplished as Wertheim brought so little balance to this book.

This program aired on January 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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