This thing that I love
so very much
is all at once easy and difficult to explain.

You know when you have a new lover,
And all of your friends tell you they don’t know
what you see in her?
That you can do better?
Because maybe she isn’t conventionally attractive,
but damn, if she isn’t gorgeous to you.

To me, that’s what it feels like
every single time
I try to tell people about why I love MMA.

What you see and what I see are so vastly different
that our respective eyes might as well be speaking different languages.
You see barbarism and blood.
I see beauty.
You see violence and pain,
while I see precise precision, a puzzle,
a chess match where the stakes have never been higher.

Something you might hear a lot of fighters say
is that you can learn everything about a person
during a fight in fifteen minutes or less.
You can know more about what this person is made of
what drives them
in mere moments when you’d never know any of this
in fifteen years of friendship.

I am so envious of this.
I am envious because I am not built for the cage.
My hands are too small,
my shoulders are too narrow.
And though there are plenty of fighters who are small,
Demetrious Johnson I am not.
Joanna Jędrzejczyk I am not.
And it hurts me to know
that I will never get to know another human being that deeply.

It hurts me to know that there are people
who will look at my lover and take her for face value.
They do not see how she lifted me and held me
during one of the worst times of my life.
They cannot understand how she, of all things,
could have been so comforting.
They will see her as nothing more
than two savages trying to beat each other up.

But the joke is on you
because, in this sport, being called a savage
is one of the highest compliments you can receive.
No, we are not delusional.
Yes, we know it’s violent.
No, it is not barbaric.
Yes, it is an art.

I know that I can talk until I’m blue in the face
and it won’t matter.
It’s not for everyone.
And that’s OK.
But friends, please understand,
that just because you don’t,
It doesn’t mean my lover is everything you think or you say.


Jack Mason, 2017

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