Tag Archives: MMA

The Role of Ring Girls at Professional Fighting Events

I am a boxing fan, and I do enjoy some of the promotional theatrics before professional sporting events between boxers. But what really sells the fight for me is the opportunity to watch two highly trained and highly skilled athletes box in the ring. Ring girls have always been there, and usually you just see an attractive and sometimes mostly-naked woman walking around in between rounds to let the crowd know which round is about to begin. It’s obviously all about sex appeal and something to press the deep evolutionary buttons within male audience members to give them a temporary buzz and make them feel like the event was worth the price of admission.

And that is the only point of ring girls. Carrying cards to indicate forthcoming-rounds is the epitome of a sinecure job. Obviously, ring girls are not the only example of using sex and naked women to enhance and promote events and products, and maybe there is an argument that being a ring girl helps to promote modeling careers of the women involved. While I am ashamedly on the fence with a number of these issues, what worries me is the presence of representations of sex and aggression in the same place.

Something that should strike us all as obvious, at least in the male, is that the brain can be warmed to sex and to aggression at the same time, meaning that they are not as conflicting emotions as one might think. This does not necessarily mean one is emphatically horny and dangerously aggressive at the same time, but the general buzz of both emotions can effortlessly sit in the slightly excited body of the spectator. Perhaps both of these feelings together represent a state of mind and brain that makes one feel like an alpha male – a firing of all the cylinders in the ‘machismo’ circuit, which helps boost the ego and makes one feel alive.

Areas of the brain have been explored in men that become increasingly active during exposure to aversive/aggressive circumstances, and during exposure to sexual/erotic imagery. These tests are obviously controlled, so any activation is limited by precisely what the participant was exposed to, and the increased activation of certain brain regions must not be interpreted as these are the sole areas specifically involved in these activities. A point to note, however, is that a number of the same or similar areas are involved in both perceiving and feeling aggression, as perceiving and feeling arousal. Hopefully, one day we’ll see a study that monitors changes in activity from aggressive stimuli to arousing stimuli; my guess is that there might be one or two key differences, but the rest would remain subtle and barely noticeable. While this study would not tell you about the individual’s conscious experience through this shift, it might tell you just how lazy the brain can be when the context changes. This laziness could perhaps indicate how easy it is to shift from the aggressive state to the erotic state, and vice-versa.

But back to ring girls. While I am not going to argue for the complete removal of the girls from the sport of boxing, or indeed from other professional fighting events, I wholeheartedly argue that they be more clothed. One reason for this is that if ring girls are mostly naked, it creates the expectation that they be mostly naked all the time – the expected buzz attached to the price of admission. A model in an evening gown can still arouse the brain, but to the point of a subtle appreciation of her beauty, after all, spectators should be there to watch the boxing match. There are other places to go or websites to visit if anything else is desired.

There is a ‘ring girl’ culture growing in the United States, mainly in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and other Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events. Ring girls have televised try-outs and have to pose in outfits that would make normal underwear blush. In fact, it almost appears that MMA ring girls are vying to compete with Playboy (indeed some MMA ring girls have been in Playboy). This is no doubt a marketing ploy of MMA promoters in order for them to create a strong brand and maximize their franchising, on top of promoting their fights. The continual rise of MMA is going to be interesting to watch, because fighters are permitted to be fairly brutal to each other, showing maximal levels of aggression, and the associated ring girls are flaunting maximal levels of sex appeal.

In terms of appealing to the young male mind, the trap has been set.

References

Ferretti, A., Caulo, M., Del Gratta, C., Di Matteo, R., Merla, A., Montorsi, F., … & Romani, G. L. (2005). Dynamics of male sexual arousal: distinct components of brain activation revealed by fMRI. Neuroimage, 26(4), 1086-1096.

Lotze, M., Veit, R., Anders, S., & Birbaumer, N. (2007). Evidence for a different role of the ventral and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex for social reactive aggression: An interactive fMRI study. Neuroimage, 34(1), 470-478.

UFC Rogues Gallery

From some casual research it did not take long to run into some incredibly disturbing individuals who have all fought in the octagon. I’m not against professional fighting, and I will admit that I have not watched as much UFC as I would have liked to. My interest in fighters comes from enjoying a good fight, but also trying to figure out the kind of guys that get involved in this career. Unfortunately, a handful of these fighters really stand out.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

This guy, who fairly recently played B.A. in the new “A-Team” movie, has a fairly interesting past. As reported in the New York Times, he sold crack at the age of 8, was charged for assaulting a member of his wrestling team at a community college in North California, and in 2008 was arrested at gunpoint after a hit and run where he hit three other vehicles and narrowly missed numerous pedestrians. His reason for the latter was because he was depressed, sleep-deprived, and had consumed nothing but energy drinks.

Jackson, who first came to my attention on Gals guide to MMA, went on camera while in Japan getting numerous Japanese people, whose English was not great, to repeat really reprehensible phrases, apparently for fun. The video is really quite despicable, especially since the Japanese on camera are clearly excited to see an American celebrity.

Forrest Griffin & Miguel Torres

Forrest Griffin, on the left, and Miguel Torres on the right, have both joked about rape.

Forrest Griffin tweeted, “Rape is the new missionary,” and when a female fan protested, his reply was, “Keep it to yourself nobody cares.”

Miguel Torres, also used Twitter to say, “If a rape van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.” – Torres, unlike Griffin, was actually removed from the UFC.

Jarrod Wyatt

Jarrod Wyatt cut out the eyes, tongue, and heart of his sparring partner, Taylor Powell, and perhaps other body parts, too. He had attempted to cook the heart.

Apparently under the influence of mushrooms, Jarrod was convinced of the imminent arrival of a tidal wave and that Taylor had Satan in him; because of this “end times” scenario, the acts were justified to Jarrod. Jarrod made no attempt at masking/disguising the crime, in fact, he told the arresting officer that Taylor had Satan in him.

This case is still on-going. A new D.A. in California, Jon Alexander, has recently had the initial charges dismissed and re-filed to include a capital offense

Fernando Rodrigues

Fernando Rodrigues has been arrested for assault and road rage. He has also been charged with assault with a firearm, burglary, and using a deadly weapon (which in this case is his hands and feet – he is a Brazilian Jujitsu master).

Rodrigues has served two tours of duty in Iraq, although I have not seen any mention of PTSD.

The Problem of Self Defense

All schools of martial arts (including boxing) make promises, in fact, that is part of what makes them marketable. Self-defense and fitness are probably the two most parroted terms. The fitness claim is not really disputable; if you engage in physical exercise in moderation one’s level of fitness tends to improve. Self-defense, on the other hand, needs to come under intense scrutiny, and the reason for this is because it is a very serious concept. In the eyes of the law an argument for self-defense has the power to validate an appeal for a retrial where the initial trial resulted in a verdict of murder, as in State v. Leidholm (1983). If there is an argument for self-defense, therefore, there could be a degree of legal leniency.

Cases of self-defense, however, frequently involve a death, and the justification for self-defense offered by the North Dakota Century Code (used in the aforementioned case) states, “A person is justified in using force upon another person to defend himself against danger of imminent unlawful bodily injury,” in other words, defending oneself against an act of violence using what also amounts to violence. A worthwhile study would investigate style participation based upon the use of the word violence instead of the term self-defense and could involve the following questions: Would you practice a fighting style that teaches you violence to defend yourself? Would you rather defend yourself with the use of violence or self-defense? The difference between violence and self-defense is minimal to illusory, but in all probability nobody would choose the former as a reason to practice a fighting style.

It can be argued that self-defense simply implies using your mind to escape a harmful situation without inflicting harm upon an aggressor. There may be some truth to this, but every style teaches how to engage physically with an aggressor and self-defense in legal terms is generating a sufficient defense for using violence. Using the term “self-defense”, therefore, carries a great deal of responsibility, and it is questionable whether all styles and schools are qualified to use the term. Further problems arise when a person has trained to a sufficient standard that they are no longer considered to act out of self-defense, but are instead considered to be at more an advantage than a person considered unlikely to defend themselves against an aggressor; in other words, the more self-defense is practiced, the less lenient the law could be in the victim’s defense.

There is no question that the full contact fighting styles, such as boxing and MMA, train fighters to use violence and to receive violence, but these styles, especially boxing, do not tend to use self-defense as a reason to partake in the style and will openly admit that you will be hit hard and you must learn to reciprocate; the aggression employed is a lot more obvious than other styles.

Do psychopaths fight professionally?

Out of the estimated 1% of the American population with Antisocial Personality Disorder (the most extreme of whom could be psychopathic individuals), how many of them have made a career (or are currently making one) in culturally accepted forms of fighting and aggression, such as boxing or MMA? Here it is important not to confuse serial killers with psychopaths (it’s estimated that in the US there are about 8 serial killers operating at one time), and 1% of the American population is 313,000, and so it’s quite a different question to ask if serial killers become boxers (they probably don’t).

In much of the literature on aggression there tends to be two types of aggressive male; those who are reactively aggressive, and those who are instrumentally aggressive. Numerous boxers, including Michael Bentt, have said recently (commenting upon the recent Haye/Chisora/Klitschko debacle) that boxers are naturally aggressive, and if this is the case then those two categories of aggressiveness are probably also present among fighters.

There are both psychological and physiological differences between reactive and instrumental aggression. Reactive aggression frequently involves losing your cool in the face of a perceived harmful stimulus, whereas instrumental aggression involves carefully planning how to use aggressive behavior to achieve a goal. Reactive aggression is associated with a rapid rise in heart rate and a diminishing capacity for logical thought, whereas those with a tendency for instrumental aggression are able to keep a low heart rate when faced with the kinds of shocking/harmful stimuli that would cause the rest of us to lose control.

Psychopaths are renowned for instrumental aggression and ALL fighters have to utilize instrumental aggression in order to win (they have to plan/scheme/adapt in their fighting style to best their opponent and receive all of the benefits and rewards that come with winning). Of course a crucial difference here is that psychopaths also have no remorse or guilt, and I can imagine the kinds of discipline and rule following that accompanies fighting would only serve to frustrate a psychopath, hindering their quest for extreme stimulation and power. So would psychopaths fight or not?

On the one hand, it is not hard to imagine why a psychopathic individual would turn to professional fighting. Firstly, they get to hurt people, and this could be accompanied by extreme exhilaration (the basic reward circuitry in psychopaths is often underdeveloped and poorly functioning. It could be argued that because of this psychopaths often turn to alcohol and other drugs, as well as violence to feel exhilaration). Secondly, provided they were good at it, they could obtain a high social status (powerful people who could be manipulated and controlled), wealth, and access to gorgeous women (who could be manipulated and controlled).

On the other hand, they could lose and end up with none of that. Psychopaths, particularly unsuccessful psychopaths (those deemed to have lower neurological integrity in the frontal lobe and tend to end up in prison more than their successful counterparts), are notoriously bad at making risky decisions; this could support the notion of unsuccessful psychopaths becoming fighters. It would be much easier for a psychopath to rely on their charm to manipulate in an innocuous environment to gain control and fulfill their egoistic goals than to subject their bodies to tremendous punishment in a ring with a lot less certainty of success. Psychopaths who do or would fight, would in all likelihood be unsuccessful psychopaths, and could be identified by a number of factors: One, have they been involved in domestic abuse? Two, have they shown any remorse concerning said domestic abuse? Three, do they also assault people they are not familiar with/have no relationship with? Four, is their ego ridiculously high, even for a fighter?

Ring any bells?