'As real as it gets!': producing hyperviolence in mixed martial arts

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One of the strongest claims made by proponents of mixed martial arts (MMA) is that the confrontations are more authentic than other types of combat sports or, in the words of one promotion, ‘as real as it gets’. Since the advent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the United States in 1993, the franchise has become one of the most rapidly growing sports in the world, especially since the take-over of the UFC by Zuffa LLC. Twenty years later, the UFC and its imitators have transformed the global understanding of martial arts and established a successful business model for promoting martial arts-based prize fighting. However, on closer examination, the development of the rules for ‘no holds barred’ fighting demonstrate a desire on the part of the promoters to stage fights that meet audience expectations, including particularly dramatic forms of violence and decisive outcomes. Instead of fighting in some kind of ‘de-regulated’ space, the UFC and other MMA appear to be ‘hyper-violence’, a type of stylized unarmed combat, especially telegenic, that obscures the actual effects of that violence on participants, even as it focuses the camera almost obsessively on particularly dramatic violent moments. Ironically, the regulations of ‘as real as it gets’ fighting seek to produce a confrontation that meets audience expectations, shaped especially by choreographed violence in movies and videogames.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJOMEC journal
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
  • Hyperviolence
  • Hyperreality
  • Virtualism Reality

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