These two fighters who displayed such violence and inflicted significant damage upon each other, were praised and rewarded extra for their performance after the fight. Both fighters entered the octagon cage, the standard UFC setting, with the intention of causing physical harm to their opponent. Overall, the scene looks more like a modern depiction of gladiator combat than a sport, and at first glance, certainly doesn’t seem ethical.
On the other hand....
The seemingly chaotic nature of fights may deceive a casual viewer, but fans of the sport understand that there is a lot more going on than just the apparent barbarism.
Confused on how you feel yet?
With this, you can see why it’s quite difficult to get a read on mixed martial arts from an ethical perspective; it is a unique blend of barbarism and technique. As for whether it’s a sport, the answer is yes. Boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling all qualify as sports; it seems ludicrous to call mixed martial arts something other than a sport when it is just a combination of multiple sports. Determining if MMA is ethical is another matter entirely.
UFC fighters are athletes in every sense of the word. They work on their technique constantly. They juggle various fighting styles and have respect for the training.
They work 24/7 to remain in peak physical condition. This isn't a hobby for them, it's a job and a lifestyle. Everyone goes into the ring knowing the risks, having studied the opponent and, in general, knows how to defend themselves.
UFC fights are exciting to watch because you are seeing people in the most raw of human competition. This isn't barbarism, it's sport stripped of all hype.
All sport is competition. And yea, maybe UFC fights have a bit more tension because the stakes are physically higher, but that doesn't mean it's not a sport worthy of respect. Just like any other sport it has professionals, hobbyists, analysts and a culture of fans and spectators.