The “Thuggish” Face of Modern Martial Arts

Blog, Boxing & Kickboxing, Sport

I won’t pretend to be a die hard MMA fan, nor even a fan as such. I’m more of a “casual” when it comes to Mixed Martial Arts and I generally tune in for the bigger fights or at least catch up with them the next day.

Despite not being a die hard MMA fan, I do have a love and appreciation for the martial arts. 

My dad was a 2nd dan in Ju-Jitsu (the authentic Ju-Jitsu, not BJJ) and I once upon a time tried my hand at Judo as a kid. I train in both boxing and kickboxing now and they can both be considered martial arts…


After finding out that BT Sports comes included with my new phone contract, I thought I’d check out this “super fight” happening in the UFC between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Connor McGregor, seeing as it was so highly anticipated.

This spectacle was something that was built up for a long time, especially after the incident where McGregor attacked Khabib’s bus, team and fellow UFC fighters.

After being lured in by the match up of a striker versus a grappler, I set my alarm and woke up in time just to catch their fight.

Khabib V McGregor Martial Arts UFC

World Class Technician to Thug

Watching the fight, we can take nothing away from either fighter.

Khabib’s ground game was – as always – undeniably effective, strong and clinical. His stand up was impressive too, much to peoples surprise as he knocked down his Irish opponent.

McGregor’s stand up was not as sharp as it had been in his previous fights, which doesn’t really shock us when we think about his long hiatus from the Octagon and the lavish lifestyle he’s been engulfed in.

Despite his stand up game lacking its previous pop and sharpness, McGregor defended himself well on the floor and when tied up, up until the fourth round when Khabib’s ground game won him the fight.

After this beautiful display of grappling, boxing and jiu-jitsu however, Nurmagomedov turns from a world class technician to a thug as he not only spat on McGregor, but then went on to attack members of McGregor’s team.

All of this happened, whilst more of Khabib’s team/friends went on to assault McGregor, who had not long been choked out by the Russian.

Khabib V McGregor Martial Arts UFC

Provocation or Not, This is Professional Sport

Whether provoked in the build up or not, the UFC is one of the worlds biggest organisations and these guys are at the very top of their sport.

They are professional sportsmen who are setting an example to the fighters and children looking up to them. Behaving in the way that they did does absolutely nothing positive in regards to teaching the next generation how to act/behave.

Martial Arts is not only learnt as a means to defend yourself, but it is also used to teach discipline, respect, restraint and most importantly self-control.

Khabib did not display any of the above traits after defeating McGregor, but similarly, McGregor didn’t show any of the above traits before the fight!

Whilst what Khabib did was shocking and wrong, so were a lot of the things that McGregor did in the build up to this fight. Both in an attempt to get into his opponents head and to sell the fight…

The fact of the matter is, these two are professional sportsmen who have thousands if not millions of people looking up to them. These guys are role models, whether they like it or not.

Therefore, the way that they both behaved before and after the fight, is unacceptable.

Whilst it may entertain fans, it also tarnishes the image and ethos of martial arts, disrespecting the founders and teacher of the arts simultaneously.

Khabib V McGregor Martial Arts UFC

UFC – Reap What You Sew

Yesterday evening, I saw a facebook post from a guy named Michael Schiavello (who I believe is a sports commentator). Here’s what it read…

This statement is spot on and goes to show the problem with organisations like the UFC.

Mixed Martial Arts has its place. It’s a great opportunity for fighters to test the skills that they learn in the gym or in the dojo. 

It’s also in one sense, the ultimate form of combat, because you can use whatever style/blend of styles you so wish.

However, martial arts were originally intended as a means of self defence as opposed to a sport, but over time things have changed and modernised; so now we have competitions within near enough all martial art styles.

That’s great, as it gives people different opportunities to test what they’ve learned, however, when the arts are disrespected and dishonoured in a way that they were this past weekend, it’s a real shame!

The “Thuggish” Face

Let’s not lie, confrontation and insults at press conferences sell fights.

This provocation, which saw Khabib jump out of the Octagon and fly through the air to attack one of Connor McGregor’s corner team, automatically sells a ridiculous number of tickets and PPV buys for a rematch.

It’s all about marketing…

However, it’s incredibly damaging and if it’s not careful, there’s going to be some serious consequences.

People see this behaviour from their idols and world class athletes; so they attempt to replicate it in their own lives. Whether that’s in the sport at their respective level, or just out on the streets – acting like an inflated ego McGregor.

All of this “gangster” image and pretty much screw-loose anger/inability to control himself makes people think it’s cool to act that way.

I’ve already seen a massive increase in people trying to act like McGregor – it’s laughable, but also concerning that people think this is the way to do things!

What’s to say now, that people won’t do the same as Khabib did.

What’s to say that other combat athletes won’t do the same and attack a fighters team after the final bell because of what was said and done beforehand?

The point I’m trying to make here, is that whether these guys genuinely hate each other or not, their actions – as professional fighters – were disgusting.

Their actions were “thug-like” and it is only going to breed more of the same.

We don’t need anymore thugs.

How Can This Be Solved?

It’s a shame that people are left remembering the aftermath of the Khabib Vs. McGregor fight, as opposed to the fight itself or the fights on the undercard.

The rest of that card was stacked with fights – that I didn’t watch because I kept falling asleep – which were supposedly brilliant contests.

Brilliant contests with bucket loads of skill, sportsmanship-like conduct and respect for one another, the organisation and the spectrum of martial arts.

The way that this problem can be solved, is to find another way to promote fights. Instead of hyping up fights through causing chaos, hurling insults and waging what can only be described as a UFC “mob war”.

Praise and promote the fighters who act with authenticity, honour, tenacity and sportsmanship, put their faces out there and punish fighters (properly!) who fall out of line and cause all of these problems.

Unfortunately, this will probably never happen, as it doesn’t bring in the money or views that Dana White and the UFC want.

However, what may be a good move for the UFC to do in the immediate future, is to put on a card full of great quality fighters – all who respect the noble arts.

It would be good to see the UFC attempt to demonstrate the real meaning and behaviour that comes with martial arts…

Don’t Just Take it From Me

Don’t just take it from me. After all, I’m just a very, very “casual” MMA fan!

However, I will leave you with a few thoughts from some Martial Arts practitioners and fighters, and let you hear/read what they’ve got to say on the matter.

The most important thing to remember, is that what you may have seen the other night is not martial arts as such.

That’s two men that cannot stand one another. Two men who couldn’t control their ego’s and two men that seemed to have forgotten the meaning of martial arts somewhere along the way to this fight.

For real martial artists, look a bit deeper into things… One current fighter that I really admire in MMA – is Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson!

Although he never fought in something like the UFC – I find that Bruce Lee is also a good person to reference when looking at what martial arts is really all about!

Although not a competitive fighter as such, Bruce Lee placed so much value in martial arts. Not only the physicality of the arts, but also the psychological and philosophical aspects.

Thoughts from Martial Arts Experts

Shane Fazen’s Reaction on Instagram

Shane Fazen – Fight Tips

Daniel Cormier

Brendan Schaub

Anderson Silva reaction to beating trash talking opponent

Max Holloway

Megan Anderson

Emil Valhalla Meek


Although it’s not about MMA, we recently did a podcast episode talking about professionalism in boxing! If you’d like to check that out, then you can click the link here. (Episode #3)

The “British Boxing Talk” Podcast – Episode #3

Is Mike Tyson an All-Time Great?

The Story of Callum Smith – So Far

Let me know what you think

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