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Streep’s MMA Diss

I didn’t watch whatever awards show she rambled on at yesterday, but this line stood out to me, as it did to many others:

And if we kick [the foreigners] out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

I don’t follow MMA, though I do have an MMA-style boxing bag hanging in my garage that I flail at for exercise once in a while. And even I know this is a vicious slander.

The whole point of MMA is to bring people with different fighting styles together to see which ones work best. Punching, kicking, and grappling are all allowed. It is almost without question the most multicultural variation on the theme of two guys beating the hell out of each other.

Here’s how Bill Viola, by many considered a co-creator of the sport, put it in 1980:

You hear people saying, who would win if a boxer fought a wrestler? Or if kickboxer fought a boxer? What would happen if Bruno Sammartino fought Muhammad Ali? Well, we’re going to bring that to life.

And here’s Wikipedia on the origins of the Ultimate Fighting Championship about a decade later:

Art Davie proposed to John Milius and Rorion Gracie an eight-man single-elimination tournament called “War of the Worlds”. The tournament was inspired by the Gracies in Action video-series produced by the Gracie family of Brazil which featured Gracie Jiu-Jitsu students defeating martial-arts masters of various disciplines such as karate, kung fu, and kickboxing. The tournament would also feature martial artists from different disciplines facing each other in no-holds-barred combat to determine the best martial art and would aim to replicate the excitement of the matches Davie saw on the videos.[14] 

Only six of the eleven current UFC champions are even from the U.S. The heavyweight champ was raised here by Croatian parents.

Robert VerBruggen is managing editor of The American Conservative. 

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