Every time I drive to Lakeside for a little big box shopping, I drive past a depressing nightclub that offers, among other things, cage fighting. I don't know what cage fighting is, and in case you don't either, here follows a little lesson.
I start with Wikipedia, natch.
"Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques, from a mixture of martial arts traditions, to be used in competitions. The rules allow the use of striking and grappling techniques, both while standing and on the ground."
So where does the cage come in, making this sound like the dirtiest kind of back alley entertainment? (Or am I just confusing this with cage dancing, which can be found in varying forms of seediness at any number of nightclubs?)
I move on to a You Tube video.
Now I get it, it's basically two guys in boxing shorts, doing what looks more or less like street fighting in a large cage, surrounded by onlookers. In a nightclub (or parking lot), the crowd stands around. At an official event, they buy seats.
Clearly, we're behind the curve. The New York Times ran an article in 2005 about cage fighting, reporting it alive and kicking in the Midwest (but banned in some slightly more civilised places, like New York). It takes place in parking lots, fairgrounds and small arenas. The fighters might train everyday, but they're regular guys, just slightly tougher.
Back on our home turf, I find an article from Time Out London, reporting that cage fighting "not as fearsome as it sounds".
From what I can tell, the large events (like the Cage Rage series, many of which have been held at Wembly since 2002) are just another form of professional fighting, and probably not that fearsome. But the ones from nightclubs and in parking lots?
I think you'd have to be a crazy motherfuc*ker to want to play in that arena - participant OR onlooker.