When it comes to sporting entertainment, it doesn’t get much better than two grown adults climbing into a cage and whaling away at one another in exchange for cash. Because let’s be honest. What else are cages for?
On Saturday, in a sleepy little town in the Nevada desert called Las Vegas, Cleveland’s own Stipe Miocic and some other town’s own Daniel Cormier will climb into a cage and whale away at one another in exchange for cash.
To the winner will go the coveted UFC championship belt. To the loser will get a trip to the Emergency Room.
I’m new to the UFC, which I originally thought stood for “Ultra Fine Clobbering,” but have since learned it’s “Ultimate Fighting Championship,” so I was close.
To the untrained eye — of which I have two — a UFC match looks like a glorified bar fight. The athletes enter the cage wearing virtually nothing but their muscles. No shoes and no gloves — at least not the classic boxing gloves that were the triggering mechanism for “Down goes Frazier!”
In the wild, wild, anything goes UFC, kicking and punching and jumping are all permitted, to such a rambunctious extreme that at times it seems like there ARE no rules.
Turns out there are rules. Lots of them. In fact, reading the rules is almost as entertaining as watching the fights. What makes the rules so interesting is their very existence; the fact that there were apparently concerns that without them some of this stuff might actually happen.
Here (I am not making any of this up) are the official UFC Rules and Regulations. All of the following are illegal in a UFC fight:
BUTTING WITH THE HEAD. (As opposed to what? Butting with the butt?)
EYE GOUGING OF ANY KIND. (There’s more than one way to gouge an eye?).
BITING. (UFC applicant: “You don’t allow biting? I’m out.”).
HAIR PULLING. (Hair growing is legal).
FISH HOOKING. (I have no idea what this is, and I have no desire to know what this is).
GROIN ATTACKS OF ANY KIND. (I fully support this rule).
PUTTING A FINGER INTO ANY ORIFICE OR INTO ANY CUT OR LACERATION ON AN OPPONENT. (UFC is the only sport in the history of sports in which you might hear a competitor yell, “Come on ref! He’s got a finger in my orifice!”)
SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION. (Nudge-nudge).
STRIKING TO THE SPINE OR THE BACK OF THE HEAD. (Hey, they’ve got to have SOME rules!).
STRIKING DOWNARD USING THE POINT OF THE ELBOW. (Striking upward? No problem!).
THROAT STRIKES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION: GRABBING THE TRACHEA. (So if you’re a UFC hopeful who is also a compulsive trachea grabber, you might want to switch to canasta).
CLAWING, PINCHING, OR TWISTING OF THE FLESH. (What’s your problem, man?).
GRABBING THE CLAVICLE. (Thanks to heavy lobbying by the National Clavicle Association).
KICKING THE HEAD OF A GROUNDED OPPONENT. (Not grounded? Do what ya gotta do).
KNEEING THE HEAD OF A GROUNDED OPPONENT. (Especially while gouging the eye).
STOMPING A GROUNDED OPPONENT. (Get up off the ground already!).
KICKING TO THE KIDNEY WITH THE HEEL. (Yet there is no penalty for kicking the heel with the kidney. Go figure).
SPIKING AN OPPONENT TO THE CANVAS ON HIS HEAD OR NECK. (Especially while clawing, pinching or twisting his flesh).
THROWING AN OPPONENT OUT OF THE FENCED AREA. (When politely asking him to leave would suffice.).
HOLDING THE SHORTS OR GLOVES OF AN OPPONENT. (Unless the opponent is not wearing them).
SPITTING AT AN OPPONENT. (Per the Geneva Convention).
ENGAGING IN UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT THAT CAUSES INJURY TO AN OPPONENT. (Unsportsmanlike conduct that doesn’t cause injury: you’re good to go).
HOLDING THE FENCE. (Waived, if you’re about to be thrown over it).
USING ABUSIVE LANGUAGE IN THE FENCED AREA. (The fenced area is very impressionable).
ATTACKING AN OPPONENT ON OR DURING THE BREAK. (Relax. There will be plenty of time to attack him later).
ATTACKING AN OPPONENT WHO IS UNDER THE CARE OF THE REFEREE. (Or under the influence of small-joint manipulation, nudge-nudge).
ATTACKING AN OPPONENT AFTER THE BELL HAS SOUNDED THE END OF THE PERIOD OF UNARMED COMBAT. (I have absolutely no idea what this means).
FLAGRANTLY DISREGARDING THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE REFEREE. (Suggestion: try subtly disregarding him, but you didn’t hear that from me).
TIMIDITY, INCLUDING, BUT WITHOUT LIMITATION: AVOIDING CONTACT WITH AN OPPONENT, INTENTIONALLY OR CONSISTENTLY DROPPING THE MOUTHPIECE, OR FAKING INJURY. (Or pointing to the crowd and shouting, “Hey look! It’s George Clooney!” then, while everyone’s looking, racing out of the cage and into a waiting Uber).
INTERFERENCE BY THE CORNER. (This is a fake rule. In an octagon cage there is no corner).
THROWING IN THE TOWEL DURING THE COMPETITION. (If I was an unskilled UFC fighter, this would be a deal breaker for me).