Many people know that I am an animal welfare advocate. I am against all forms of animal entertainment: fighting, racing – even performances like the Ringling Bros. Circus. So they are often surprised to learn that I am a big fan of the live Strikeforce showdowns on Showtime, the brutal sport of human fighting in the form of mixed martial arts (MMA).
MMA does get bloody and even downright gory with injuries like fractured eye sockets and ripped ear lobes. Yet I love its atavistic rawness. (I should mention that I also love announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.’s musically drawn-out pronunciation of the fighters’ names.) Inside the octagonal cage, without any protective gear other than a mouth piece and a light pair of gloves, it is combat of human body against human body: the epitome of survival of the fittest.
Because the sport is a combination of strength, speed, stamina, and smarts, it is entertaining to watch. The fight can end with a lightning-quick knockout or a writhing submission. A physically disadvantaged fighter can still win if he can seize the opportunity to swing a devastating punch.
Given that I am entertained by watching human survival of the fittest, why am I so adamantly against animal fighting?
The difference lies in free will. The MMA fighters choose to fight. They have given informed consent to participate, knowing the physical danger. Many fighters have talked about their passion for fighting, and for pushing their bodies to the limit. Their desire to win is apparent. For many, the euphoria of winning, not to mention the fame and the monetary rewards, make it worth enduring grueling training and brutal assaults to their bodies.
Animals, on the other hand, have no say when they are forced to fight or race. We humans artificially create an environment that triggers animals’ survival instincts so that they fight to their physical detriment and even death just to amuse us. I have a big problem with this type of exploitation. In my opinion, this practice is no different than the gladiatorial combats in ancient Rome, when enslaved prisoners of war fought in front of the jeering crowds before being butchered to death.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Click here to see a disturbing image of a dog fighting victim.