Will “CM Punk” make a future iteration of this list? Please tell us below. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Is mixed martial arts sport or spectacle?
Many hardcore fans and a large chunk of the media would resist any attempt to label it anything other than sport. One need only look at the reactions to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s recent signing of Phil Brooks, aka “CM Punk” -- a 36-year-old former professional wrestler with a huge profile and zero experience in competitive combat sports -- to gauge where, precisely, those folks stand on the issue.
Spectacle, however, has been deeply intertwined with MMA since its very beginning. Promoters have consistently turned to attention-grabbing names with some capacity for recognition outside that limited fanbase in order to draw eyes to their product. As the “CM Punk” signing and the whispers over Brock Lesnar’s possible return to the sport suggest, that tendency toward playing to the headlines will not be going away anytime soon.
Sport and spectacle coexist in an uneasy mixture. For a historical parallel, the ancient Romans combined relatively even matchups of professional gladiators -- sport, if you will -- with spectacles consisting of masses of unarmed slaves thrown into arenas to fight dangerous animals imported from across the known world. The formula is still effective today, even if professional wrestlers, baseball players and boxers have replaced lions, tigers, bears and giraffes.
The latest Sherdog Top 10 list focuses on some of those attention-grabbing MMA short-timers, competitors who fought only once and then left the sport for good. The Sherdog.com staff voted on a wide array of criteria, including the athlete’s accomplishments in their native sport, the quality of opposition, the magnitude of the matchup and how their experience in MMA actually unfolded:
Number 10 » In order to protect his lead hand, he wore a single boxing glove, which is essentially the thing for which he is most well-known today.