The sports commentariat is again debating the brutality of mixed martial arts in the wake of Saturday’s Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, in which Anderson’s leg snapped like a stick when it collided with his opponent’s knee. Time Magazine’s Sean Gregory tried to put the injury in context:
[T]his horrific injury is a disaster for the sport. It happened on one of the most important nights in UFC history. This was Silva-Weidman, the sequel, which UFC president Dana White called “the biggest fight we’ve ever done.” … Silva’s injury does not make MMA too violent. MMA makes MMA too violent. It was a brutal night, for a brutal game.
Reportage photographer Benjamin Lowy has photographed a number of MMA events in recent years, and finds that some of the most “exciting fights take place in back-room convention halls and small town meeting centers,” on the country’s amateur circuit. He adds: “Fighters hoping to make it big get into the cage with no hope of winning money, but with the promise of brutality. Fans watch eagerly and cheer with every pounding fist and spray of blood. If America can be likened to the Roman Empire, then cage fighting is our Gladiatorial games.” Above are three images from Ben’s ongoing series.
Photos by Benjamin Lowy/Reportage by Getty Images