Underground Beat Down

You may have heard reports of brutal incidents. YouTube is full of videos of young men fighting in so-called underground fight clubs. What's the attraction? Reg Sherren takes us deeper into the violent world of these modern day gladiators to find out why young men get together just to beat each other up.

Read Reg Sherren's Reporter Notes

March 10, 2010

When I was a kid, we used to get together in my buddy's basement with his uncle's boxing gloves and pretend we were Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali. (I know, I'm dating myself.) Anyway, one day, I broke my friend's nose, and that was the end of my boxing career.

What's happening today is a little different. The heroes are George St. Pierre or Brock Lesnar, and the fights can be more than a little brutal, involving kicking and punching, which can carry on long after your opponent goes down.

Mixed martial arts, as I understand it, and I am a fan, does come with a code of conduct which includes respect for your sport, yourself, and your combatant. Unfortunately that does not seem to be translating very well to YouTube. It, and Facebook, are full of videos showing fights involving young men that are clearly interested in doing damage to each other.

The rules, if there are any, seem haphazard, at best. Often there isn't even the minimal cushioning offered by MMA gloves. Many times, there is a crowd, urging these young men to pound each other, and people are getting seriously hurt. A young Manitoba man came within hours of dying after willingly jumping into fight, only to have his spleen ruptured in some makeshift ring in a farmer's field.

This is a generation that seems to not only want to live these moments, but also to film them and put them on display for the cyberworld to see. It lends a certain sense of celebrity, I guess. It's hard to know for sure what is feeding or truly motivating young men, and some women, to participate.

Muhammad Ali was a professional. Parkinson's disease has robbed him of many of his "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" attributes, and there's more than one medical professional that thinks his health today is directly related to the number of shots he took to the head.

I wonder how many of these young men think about that as they upload their latest underground fight club video. I know I didn't.

Read the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Rules

Most Mixed Martial Arts competitions adopt the UFC rules. Here is what you cannot do in a UFC fight:

1. Butting with the head.

2. Eye gouging of any kind.

3. Biting.

4. Hair pulling.

5. Fish hooking.

6. Groin attacks of any kind.

7. Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent.

8. Small joint manipulation.

9. Striking to the spine or the back of the head.

10. Striking downward using the point of the elbow.

11. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.

12. Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh.

13. Grabbing the clavicle.

14. Kicking the head of a grounded opponent.

15. Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent.

16. Stomping a grounded opponent.

17. Kicking to the kidney with the heel.

18. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck.

19. Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area.

20. Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent.

21. Spitting at an opponent.

22. Engaging in an unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to an opponent.

23. Holding the ropes or the fence.

24. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area.

25. Attacking an opponent on or during the break.

26. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee.

27. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat.

28. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee.

29. Timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury.

30. Interference by the corner.

31. Throwing in the towel during competition.