and dangerous, by Adrian Proszenko - 17th Feb
Sydney has sampled the fastest-growing
regulated sport in the world, writes Adrian Proszenko.
martial arts legend Richard Norton came to the
inescapable truth after years of being kicked
and punched in the head by Jackie Chan and Chuck
Norris: "Playing the bad guy always meant
you got beat up and killed and never got the woman."
the renowned actor, stuntman and bodyguard came
to an even more chilling conclusion while commentating
on one of the first official cage fights in the
United States - somebody was going to die.
is where Norton made his name. Hollywood would
have you believe cage fighting is the equivalent
of human cockfighting. Like the time when Mad
Max walks into the Thunderdome arena. Two men
enter. One man leaves.
Norton's initial fears have been put to rest.
Having watched the sport of mixed martial arts
evolve from a lawless bloodfest into a regulated
sport - the fastest-growing in the world - Norton
is now an unabashed fan of cage matches.
pleased to say I have been proved wrong,"
he said. "When you look at the overall record,
the injury rate is incredibly low.
it was seen to be out of control, with no professionalism
in the way it's run and the way the fight is conducted,
I don't think it would have spread the way it
fight choreographer for another George Miller
film, Justice League Of America, was a ringside
guest at Friday night's Cage Fighting Championship
at Luna Park. What he saw was a far cry from the
sport in the early 1990s. Back then there were
practically no rules, no weight limits, no time
limits. Fighters came out bare-fisted, free to
stomp and kick the groin - free to do pretty much
whatever they pleased. But the introduction of
rules, regulations and professional referees has
helped clean up the image of cage fighting. And
in the US the punters have responded with their
Ultimate Fighting Championship is the second biggest-grossing
pay-per-view event on television. And, while the
sport has evolved from its barbaric origins, there's
enough contact, blood and violence to ensure it's
not everyone's cup of chai.
always get a small contingent, rednecks or whatever
you want to call them, that want to see a lot
of violence," CFC director Luke Pezzutti
not about that. You want to watch a good fight,
all three facets of the fight game - the striking,
the wrestling and on the ground."
the CFC event in Sydney the card girls had an
easy night, with only two of the nine bouts lasting
more than one round. Most were over within about
60 seconds as the combatants unleashed a combination
of jujitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing and
wrestling on each other.
fights took a familiar pattern - within a few
seconds the match would degenerate into a Greco-Roman-style
wrestle on the ground, with enough grapple tackles
to make even Craig Bellamy wince.
the fourth bout of the card provided the best
insight into cage fighting. Nick Pudney was literally
on top of opponent Alex Shevtsov, punching him
to the ground and declaring to the crowd: "I'm
going to f--k him up!"
later Pudney's arm was at right angles after Shevtsov
pinned him and dislocated it.
Jai Bradney unleashed a dozen snapping cobra-like
blows on Rob Hill in the opening fight. After
the referee mercifully ended proceedings, Bradney
grabbed the MC's microphone and yelled: "To
my girlfriend, happy Valentine's Day - you're
getting some tonight!"
fighting isn't for the squeamish. As Norton put
it, the cage has a "primeval allure"
doesn't change what goes on in the ring but there's
a perception it's more gutsy, brutal and earthy."
begs the question - why would you climb in? What
would motivate someone like Andy Kappas, a part-time
fireman, to jump into the arena for the first
time on Friday night? Is he crazy?
look at at people who get into a formula one car
and go 300km/h as crazy," Kappas said, laughing.
is contact sport, but so are sports like rugby
league … why not?"
feature event involved Hector Lombard. This guy
is the real deal. Lombard came to Sydney to represent
Cuba in judo at the 2000 Olympics, fell in love
with a local and officially became an Aussie citizen
three weeks ago.
also fell in love with mixed martial arts the
first time he saw it on television and decided
to make a go of it.
winning all but two of his 19 pro fights the 29-year-old
is now set to sign up to the lucrative UFC league,
where stars have a cult following and can earn
up to $1 million in sponsorships and prizemoney.
would like to be UFC world champion, train in
America to get a contract there," he said.
"If you don't make money, it don't make sense."