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I had a hard-on watching UFC last night. I didn't notice it till after the bout was over. For those of you who don't know, the Ultimate Fighting Championship stages fights in an octagon steel cage where two half-naked men can be as vicious as they want to each other. There are few rules. No hair pulling or groin shots. But the standard prohibitions of boxing and other contact sports - no kicking while down, no elbows to the nose, no kidney punches, etc. - are absent. There is something so visceral, so primeval about watching two guys - savage brutes, is the more accurate term - kicking the shit out of each other. 

I sometimes surf YouTube videos of street fights just to see guys knock each other out. Kimbo Slice was my favorite fighter to watch. He was a street fighter literally, beating up anyone who was dumb enough to challenge him to a brawl. And Mr. Slice also made it to the UFC. He even had a professional boxing career - until last year when he passed away at 42 of a heart condition unrelated to fighting. 

My friend Pete turned me onto UFC back in 1994 around the time of the inaugural match. He was studying Jiu Jitsu and I had dabbled in Kung Fu. The Gracies, a family of brawling brothers from Brazil, dominated the sport early on amidst public outcry that the brutality be banned. The brothers would strangle into submission men twice their size or more. The early matches had the feel of chess, if sweaty and played on the floor. It was all about technique. Although some fighters, unskilled in the sweet science of grappling, lost teeth and consciousness in the first minutes of the first round. Later iterations of the sport have focused more on punching and kicking, and only when the fighters are exhausted do they drop to their knees and "ground and pound." And only a true connoisseur of the sport can appreciate two grown men, marinated in their own body fluids and wearing skivvies, locked in a twisted version of the modern hug while a burly man in black hovers over them to scrutinize form. A new breed of brotherly love I guess.

When I was twelve I used to masturbate beneath a blanket on the couch while watching baseball, just so nobody would find me out. In a family of six bathroom time is at a premium, and locking yourself inside with the water running for fifteen minutes raises quite a few eyebrows. So I took matter in my own hands literally. But popping a boner watching grown men duke it out is like ... nothing I've ever experienced. So why the semi? How could I be aroused by all that gruesomeness and gore? It's not as though I'm attracted to the fighters themselves. Indeed they are some of the ugliest bruisers in professional sports, though some were once handsome. God didn't these men monsters. Getting pulverized did. The result is so many flat-noses, cauliflower ears, Neanderthal-esque furrowed foreheads. Of course the bodies of most of these modern gladiators look as if chiseled out of marble. There are exceptions. Tank Abbot, now retired, needs to go easy on the greasy. Just don't tell him, or he may do to me what Mr. Slice did to him! 

I am no pug myself. Aside from brief forays into martial arts as a youth at my mother's behest, I've hardly ever been in a physical altercation. Once when I was in 8th grade I met a bully after school to chastise him for picking on a classmate, and after exchanging insults we clenched arms but never got so far as to throw a punch because my friend's father broke it up. And for the two or three brawls that occurred on sports teams I was on, I was either not at the game or not on the field. I took this as a sign I wasn't supposed to get physical, in the violent sense. 

So I really don't know how to explain the dance in my pants. Maybe I just needed to pee. Anyway, sitting there with my woody, salivating, pulse racing, hyper-alert, I thought, "This is how I used to feel as a teenager whenever a sex scene would come on cable television." When my parents weren't around, of course, because in most households convention still prohibits sex-starved minors from beholding the deed on TV. And yet here is UFC on one of the basic channels, and parents don't ban their kids from viewing, and nobody gets stigmatized for watching these animals knock each other senseless. You can't watch a real sex scene as graphic as Ultimate Fighting - rarely do X-rated actors shed blood, and if they did I for one would look away - but if you watch porn you do so while looking over your shoulder with one ear on the door, poised for an unwelcome visitor to barge in your room.

And yet, sex is just sex. What happened to "make love not war." Maybe society's general aversion to gratuitous hanky-panky is because the intercourse is just pretend. The actors locked in passionate embrace don't love each other any more than street fighters locked in rage's embrace do, so their staged antics mock those lovers who do have real feelings. While the UFC fighters are really causing brain-damage. And yet the WWE is pretend, and it does just fine, ratings-wise. Indeed it's one of the most popular spectacles on TV! 

The things humans embrace and the things we deplore are among life's greatest mysteries to me. I'm just poised for the day that "real sex" airs on TV. I know one person who'll tune in. Oh wait, that too has been done before. It lasted for 29 years before its final episode aired in 2009. I actually remember watching the show on HBO, and liking it! Maybe we should bring legitimate love-making back to the general audience. Or maybe it's about time I stop being a spectator and participate in all the fun and games myself. Just as long as she is no Tank.


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