There’s finally a bit of discussion going on around the MMA community regarding the risks of the UFC holding an event in Afghanistan. MMA Payout lays out a multi-point argument leaning more towards ‘how bout not holding an event in a warzone’:
Holding an event in Afghanistan would likely increase the threat level in the country, which means extensive planning would need to be done in order to conceal the date and location of the fights and reinforce the location’s security. The enormity of that task becomes more evident when you consider the sheer number of people involved in running an event and the age of communication we live in.
Increased threat levels also imply increased danger to the very military personnel the UFC is trying to support.
Thus, how do you convince the fighters to participate?
I like how they tie the increased danger to the soldiers as the reason a fighter wouldn’t want to participate. I’d figure increased danger to the fighters themselves would be the less heroic sounding but more real issue, with the pressure of not appearing like a pussy to Dana White being outweighed by the pressure a guy’s gonna get from his hormonal wife (with possible newborn) not to venture into the ‘graveyard of empires’ (as Afghanistan is affectionately known).
On the other hand, we have this report at MMA Journalist from someone who has the advantage of actually being in the military, and they paint a very different picture:
Sergeant First Class “CM” is a Green Beret who’s done a tour in Afghanistan, a tour in Iraq, returned to Iraq as a “civilian contractor” and will be returning to Afghanistan with his team later this year. His response when I asked him if Dana White and company are “going to get blowed up”: “The chances are about zero. The bases are totally secure, multiple rings of security, locals are searched completely. They’re like miniature cities. If you’re on one, it doesn’t even seem like you’re in a combat zone, what with all the Wendy’s, Pizza Huts, coffee shops, etc.” In other words, unless Zuffa’s setting up the Octagon at a forward observation base deep in Indian country, chances are everyone will be okay.
So I guess it’s all relative. Is throwing an event in Afghanistan safe? Not at all compared to throwing an event in any other place the UFC ever has. But as far as Afghanistan goes, it doesn’t get much safer than the kind of army base they’d be doing it on. It still takes massive balls to do, but there’s not a very high chance those balls are gonna get blown up.