Let me begin by saying that I can't even believe I'm intentionally wading back into this fight. But it's been a week or two since anybody's called me an insensitive, uneducated jerk, so let's talk about ... mixed martial arts.
I know. I've got to be some kind of punch-drunk crazy to go there again.
One would think I learned my lesson last year, after incurring the wrath of MMA fans everywhere for questioning the sanity of their sport. I received dozens of calls, emails and handwritten messages -- mostly in crayon -- telling me I didn't know what the heck I was talking about.
Don't know what I'm talking about? Hell-OOOO? It's me. Have we not been introduced?
My last run-in with the MMA people culminated with a visit here at the newspaper from a very nice local fighter -- one who just as easily could have doubled as a multi-story parking garage. He was polite, respectful and quite persuasive in his reasoned arguments for the sport of MMA. But in the end, we had to agree to disagree, and as he turned sideways to squeeze his shoulders out through the door of the newsroom, I made a quick mental note never to go sticking my all-to-easily broken nose into MMA business again.
And yet, here we are.
The uneasy truce between mixed martial arts fans and the rest of us relatively normal, well-adjusted humans was shattered earlier this month when Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim foolishly described the upcoming "SteelFist Fight Night" event as "rednecks, alcohol and a chain link fence."
Ouch. I gotta say, if I were a redneck, I'd be pretty darned hot under the collar right about now.
Millheim has since apologized, but the damage was done. Feelings have been hurt.
Remember that famous quote from the Tom Hanks character in "A League of Their Own?" I'd say that goes double for mixed martial arts.
C'mon, MMA fans. Man up. Stop crying. Your sport involves highly conditioned athletes who administer and receive copious amounts of physical pain, and you're upset because somebody said something that hurt your feelings? Whatever happened to sticks and stones? (Ooh! Memo to self: I just had an idea for a new twist on cage fighting, involving the use of ... actual sticks and stones!)
And with that -- and this time I really do mean it -- I'm tapping out of this fight.
"NAME THAT COLUMN" UPDATE: For those of you wondering how the naming-o'-the-column contest is going, I've got just four words for you: "Ixnay on the aalsay." Honestly? I had no idea there were that many wordplay references involving my surname. "Saalutations." "That's Saal, Folks." "It's Saal Good." "Heart and Saal." "Chips and Saalsa." "The Wisdom of Saal-oh-man." And my particular favorite given today's topic, "Mixed Mark Saal Arts."
Seriously, people. Enough already.
So here's the deal. If you're one of the five people in the Top of Utah who haven't already offered a "Saalmonela"-like idea, bless you. And for those of you who have, I can guarantee the winning entry will not have any form of my name in it, first or last.
But please believe me when I say I'm touched by your outpouring of ideas, and I encourage you to submit another entry.
Here's a helpful hint: The ideal winning column name will be profound, yet subtle. Playful, yet fraught with meaning. With maybe just the right mix of both pathos and humor.
In other words, all the things the actual column isn't.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @Saalman.