Sunday, December 12, 2010

*The business of bloodlust (and so it begins...)

The world of mixed martial arts is a sick and debaucherous spectacle. Bright lights, loud music, women in bathing suits paraded about, men in tights pounding each others faces into oblivion and twisting limbs into unnatural positions, all to the soundtrack of the drunken masses screaming uncontrollably for more. Montreal is a sophisticated market.

 Ironic however is the fact that a massive contingent of last night's crowd at the Bell Centre in Montreal was from Ontario, and other neighboring  provinces (as exemplified at one point with a hearty chant of "Go Leafs Go" from within enemy territory). Trains, and buses flooding in from all over packed full of fight fans ready to let loose the primal instinct within all of us; The insatiable blood lust that conservative North America likes to deem as taboo. Waiters and hotel concierges begrudgingly unfazed by the aloof obnoxiousness of the glossy-eyed anglophones who had, for one weekend, invaded their city.

The UFC is like sex on steroids, meaning if nothing else, it is extremely marketable. People love violence, pain, and competition. They love a good guy to place on a pedestal and love a bad guy to condemn to a beating within an inch of his life. They love victory. It only makes sense that the UFC has found their niche by exploiting these basic human traits by turning their event into a one-stop shop. Hell, they even have near-naked women, just to give it that edgy undertone of smut.

The only thing differentiating these events with the battle-to-the-death clashes in the old coliseum is the option to order on pay-per-view (and of course the privilege of retaining one's right to live should one lose). The knowledge of these facts doesn't sway anyone's interest in the slightest. Who doesn't like to embrace humanity on it's lowest, most animalistic levels? Not this guy. No good people, I fancy myself one of the unruliest of the hordes.

UFC 124 offered one of the best opportunities to see all of these aspects on display at their finest. Georges St-Pierre: the indomitable hometown champion of the people. Josh Koscheck: incorrigible uber-douche of the decade. Vince McMahon wishes he could write 'em this good. Don King wishes he could (still) hype 'em this big. Although the card for the night was fairly impressive, with top-end talent like Thiago Alves , Joe Stevenson, and Stefan Struve being showcased, it all seemed like a distraction. A side-show, or precursor to what everyone was truly there to see. Good versus evil. Right versus wrong. Canada versus the world. 'Fuck Josh Koscheck and the arrogant horse he rode in on'.

Every fight leading up to the main event was overshadowed by chants of 'G.S.P.', and when the moment had finally arrived, the crowd had been whipped into a raucous frenzy. In true sporting cliched fashion the building was electric. St-Pierre might as well have made his entrance on a fire-breathing white steed. For all of the hype surrounding the encounter there really were no surprises. The good guy has to win. And how. The champion rode the wave of adoration to yet another annihilation of a sub-par contender, and the crowd was sent home feeling like they had all reached a simultaneous orgasm. And in some crazy, semi-metaphorical sense, they had.

Somewhere Dana White is laying on pile of money with several beautiful women, cackling with victorious joy at the monster he's created. No other result could have been better for business. An unstoppable champion, a battered villain, a satisfied fan base, and a venue three times that size to showcase his next Canadian spectacle. His business is blood lust, and business is very, very good.

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