In the main event of UFC 264, which will likely be the biggest mixed martial arts event of the year, Conor McGregor joined the dubiously exclusive club of UFC fighters who have lost due to horrific leg breaks. Prior to him, only Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva and Corey Hill had done the same.
It was hard to see what happened in real time, but it was much harder to look at what actually happened on any of the innumerable replays — especially for someone who has suffered ankle injuries throughout his life. You may point out that technically he broke his tibia, not his ankle, to which I say it really doesn’t matter; it happened close enough to the ankle to look like an ankle injury, and the psychological damage that has already been done cannot be undone.
Yet there I was, watching every slow-motion replay, cringing and consoling my legs for the psychic damage I was inflicting on them. It reminded me of the Weidman break earlier this year, and how afterward I went back and watched it — and the Silva and Hill leg breaks, too — multiple times. I suppose I had long internalized Bart Simpson’s advice: if you don’t watch the violence, you’ll never get desensitized to it.
I can’t imagine I’m the only one who did that, though; I’m not special or unique enough to be the only one who thinks or does something. The sudden and grotesque physical devastation of a mid-fight leg break is hard to ignore, no matter how much you want to look away. Part of the reason we watch this sport is to see the absolute limits of the human body. This includes seeing it in its most vulnerable and shattered state…