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Kyle Maynard: Inspirational or just insane?

The always salty Alan Conceicao of Total MMA gives his thoughts on why congenital amputee Kyle Maynard fighting on an MMA card this weekend is a freakshow of the worst kind:

It is the most exploitative of acts in a sport that is defined by exploitation. And please, don’t sit here and say that because he’s a willing participant that it is not exploitative. Prostitutes (adult and child) can be willing participants; That doesn’t mean the act of them having sex with 50 year old men so that they can get a hit isn’t exploitative either. Porn stars are exploited. Strippers are exploited. Boxers are exploited. Race car drivers are exploited. The people on Maury Povich, COPS, America’s Wildest Police Chases…all being used to make a buck for a production company, promoter, both, other, etc.

What makes this so much more than just your garden level exploitation that almost any amateur MMA show often becomes is that the participant is missing the majority of all four limbs. The term “freak show” is adopted from, well, “freak shows”: Vaudeville type acts that depended on the gross deformities or wild actions of the participants, whether human or non-human, to sell tickets. Kyle Maynard is not being trotted out towards the typical southerner mouth breathing MMA fan as an inspiration, it is for the novelty value of a man without arms and legs being put in a position where he will be punched, kneed, and kicked. There can be no good from this, and if you pretend that you’re interested in the well being of the sport, you too should be mortified.

While I agree that the promoter is probably more motivated by the prospect of selling tickets than by a commitment to handicapped athletics, I’m still expecting Kyle Maynard to surprise a lot of people. The chance that his opponent has ever dealt with a congenital amputee : zero. Maynard’s experience handling ‘normal’ people: several years of very respectable wrestling and grappling. And Joe Riggs learned to his surprise that limbless wonders can indeed whup the shit out of you.

Sure, if Maynard’s opponent decides to stand and just kick at his stumps for the entire fight, then Maynard may not win. But if he gets down on the ground with him, I give Maynard the edge. Simply put, don’t count a wily cripple out. While the promoter might be exploiting the situation, I don’t think Kyle is the kind of guy who’d go into this if he didn’t think he could win (or at least put up a good fight).

A lot of people are making assumptions about this story based on a few half-assed articles they’ve read on the internet. The truth of the matter is Kyle Maynard has been training for YEARS in preparation for this fight. He’s not a clueless idiot that lives in his own fantasy world and it’s not like he hasn’t already proven in wrestling that he can hang and WIN. Under any other circumstances, I’d be against this fight going on. But because of Maynard’s unique background, I’m gonna sit back with an open mind and see what happens.

And if it ends in complete disaster, I’ll just pretend I was against the idea the entire time.