UFC 249 is canceled. Can we now direct our bloodlust on the elites who deserve it?
Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo
Last Thursday night Mickey Mouse and the suits at Disney put the ever ornery and defiant president of the UFC, Dana White, into a rear-naked power play/money choke-hold, forcing him to tap out and shut down UFC 249 due to Covid-19. Thus ended our last and best hope of live sports in the age of coronavirus… at least for now, and probably well into the near future.
I totally understand why Disney forced UFC 249 to shut down, and why every other sport is closed for business too; it is the logical and safe thing to do during a pandemic. I’m just trying to come to grips with how mentally devastating it is not to have any live sports to watch.
First the virus took away the NBA and NHL, then college basketball’s March Madness, followed quickly by baseball’s opening day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if even the juggernaut of football ends up on the chopping block too.Also on rt.com 'That sucks! Stay safe everyone!' Fighters react as cursed UFC 249 is finally CALLED OFF
Things are so bad they’ve even closed the bars here in Los Angeles so I can’t watch the drunks flex their beer muscles and square off in comically ineffective combat on the sidewalk at closing time. Hell, I can’t even go to the gym and watch myself fight to a respectable draw with my old nemesis – the heavy bag, all because of coronavirus.
Sports are cathartic, and combat sports in particular give us a psychological release from the more primal impulses we all carry in our psyche. Watching two combatants enter the ring/octagon and put it all on the line helps us to live vicariously and not channel our own animal instincts by pummeling our idiot neighbor who plays his music too loud… even though that idiot neighbor most definitely deserves a serious pummeling.
UFC 249 was to be headlined by an intriguing bout between current Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim champion Tony Ferguson. Coronavirus circumstances and some confusion led to the undefeated Khabib bailing out of UFC 249 and being replaced by Justin Gaethje, even before Dana White officially put the kibosh on that event. The Khabib-Ferguson pairing has seemingly forever been a star-crossed match-up as UFC 249 is the fifth fixture between the two to be canceled over the last four years.
As much as I wanted to see Khabib back in action, I have to be honest: I am so desperate to watch any fight or sporting event, I’d settle for a septuagenarian slap-and-tickle duel between Donald Trump and Joe Biden at this point… just as long as they keep their shirts on.
In order to satiate my thirst for sport I’ve re-watched a cornucopia of old UFC battles, featuring George St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell and even Khabib’s bitter rival Conor McGregor. I’ve also indulged in the entire canons of boxing greats like Ali, Arguello, Ray Leonard, Hearns, Hagler, Tyson, Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker and the villainous Floyd Mayweather. I even re-watched the first Gennady Golovkin – Canelo Alvarez fight and tried to comprehend how anyone could score it 118-110 for Canelo… I still haven’t figured it out.Also on rt.com Coronavirus has been ‘freewheeling’ in California since December, says government official
The depressing truth is the only new fight left for me to watch nowadays is the fight against coronavirus… and that is not in any way, shape or form an entertaining fight.
Sadly, we are losing this one-sided bout against Covid-19, as everyday more and more people are dying brutal deaths at its cold hands.
In addition, small businesses and the working class are being economically destroyed by this insidious disease, all while the fat cats and oligarchs are once again using a crisis to socialize their losses and privatize their gains through copious corruption-fueled, taxpayer-funded bailouts.
While I lament the loss of sports, I am also well aware that it is a frivolous distraction meant to anesthetize the populace so they placidly accept without complaint the malignant ruling corporatocracy that continuously oppresses and depresses them.
Sports have long been a way to reduce –or at least to distract us from– the stress and tensions of everyday life, which are only heightened during our communal coronavirus lockdown. Maybe, just maybe… the absence of sport as a release valve for our anger and anxieties will bring about a breaking of the stranglehold of the status quo. With the masses here in America no longer able to cathartically release their pent-up rage by watching two gladiators square off in a brawl, maybe they will cultivate that fury and direct it with laser focus at the ruling class that exploits and brutalizes them.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.