He is risen.
No, wait. He's down again. And this time, it looks like he's out for the count.
Ah, yes. Nothing quite says "Holy Week" like guys with angry facial expressions and the occasional neck tats, beating on each other like they were rented mules.
Last night, on what many Christians refer to as "Holy Saturday," the mixed-martial-arts fight promoter Total Mayhem presented "We're Back II." The event, at The Gym in West Haven, offered a dozen matches of hardly-any-holds-barred ultimate fighting.
At least, I assume it was 12 fights, because that's what was scheduled. Of course, newspaper deadlines being what they are, this Easter Sunday column was due on Good Friday. So I can't be 100 percent certain that at least a few of last night's 24 scheduled competitors didn't come to their senses and decide to go out for ice cream instead.
In mixed martial arts -- MMA, to those who know and love it -- the idea is to punch, kick or otherwise grapple an opponent with such force that he will: A) lose consciousness; B) become clearly unable to defend himself, thereby causing the referee to stop the fight; or C) politely ask that the fight be stopped.
The timing of this event did feel a tad strange -- what with it being Holy Week and all. Granted, the predominant religion in the state doesn't really celebrate the entire week.
Why, other than Easter, I suppose most Mormons would be hard-pressed to name another Holy Week day. Heck, they probably couldn't even tell you the difference between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. (Survey says: Five days!)
Still, it's odd that the event was held on Easter Weekend, a time usually reserved for egg hunts, mountain man rendezvous and women in festive bonnets.
Look, I get it. Some folks like to watch two people hit each other as hard as they can. Or kick each other. Or choke each other.
I just don't happen to be among them.
Now before you try to tell me that MMA is no more violent than, say, football, save your breath. Football is a violent sport, but there's one appreciable difference: The ultimate goal in football is to advance a ball across a goal line and score points, not to see if you can beat another person into submission and/or senselessness.
Indeed, a couple of coaches in the National Football League are in hot water right now for encouraging their athletes to attempt to physically knock opponents out. Think that would ever be an issue in ultimate fighting?
Plus which, you can always play flag football, or even touch football. Touch MMA, I suspect, would be a bit pointless.
I am happy to report that the list of forbidden fighting techniques includes things like head-butting, eye-gouging, hair-pulling, spitting, biting, attacking the groin, and something called "fish-hooking." (I hadda look it up; Wikipedia defines it as "the act of inserting a finger or fingers of one or both hands into the mouth, nostrils or other orifices of a person, and pulling away from the centerline of the body, in most cases with the intention of pulling, tearing or lacerating the surrounding tissue.") Ewwww.
In their own way, fight organizers are trying to be socially responsible. Regarding last night's fight, the Total Mayhem website reports:
"Also at this event we will be bring(ing) to light the fact that 'Real Men Don't Hit Women' as we help support the cause Stop The Silence. So join us for a night of fun and excitement and join in with us in telling the world that women are to be respected and not abused."
Hear that, gentlemen? Women are not to be hit, nor abused. Your fellow dudes, on the other hand? Hey, knock yourselves out. Literally.
I'm sure that groups fighting against domestic violence will take support wherever they can get it. But it seems to me a fight organization speaking out against any kind of violence toward humans is a little like KFC offering PETA a donation of 50 cents from the sale of each bucket of chicken.
C'mon, you're an organization that justifies physically striking another human being. For entertainment purposes, no less. So then, how much more of a stretch is it to rationalize hitting a woman? I mean, what if there was a really good reason to hit her? What if she started it? What if it was a fair fight and she could pretty much hold her own with a guy?
Or hey, what if she was ASKING for it?
Please don't misinterpret my own personal revulsion to the sport of ultimate fighting. I am in no way advocating abolishing mixed-martial-arts events. At least with MMA -- unlike, say, rodeo -- all parties involved are willing participants. Which, in a way, might be the most disturbing part in all of this. Because I could almost understand it if folks were being force to fight. Or watch.
Whether these ultimate beatdown events are to become an Easter Weekend tradition remains to be seen. But I will tell you one thing:
I can hardly wait to see what they've got planned for Ramadan.
Mark Saal fully realizes that irritating a collection of individuals who could easily cold-cock a good-sized steer is not the smartest thing he's ever done. Contact him at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.