|(Photo courtesy of thebiglead.com)|
The UFC became a giant by convincing gaming commissions like Ontario’s that MMA is the safest combat sport in the world. Safer than boxing, maybe, but it's a cultural issue that may be doing their athletes the most damage. With Chris Leben opening up about his battle with addiction, and Gary Goodridge’s CTE diagnosis, we’re seeing a dark element to MMA that is seldom discussed. Fighters are under constant pressure to perform; their livelihoods depend on it, especially considering the modest purses, and limited sponsorship opportunities. When your job entails fighting a trained violence machine for peanuts, it becomes easy to feel the heat. Pop that pill; take the next fight. Ignore the headaches; take the next fight. MMA is safe enough to get sanctioned, but in a world of broken hearts, dreams, and bones, no one is truly safe.