The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 230 bout between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis was the Saturday night mainstay at Sports USA, with Cormier the heavyweight champion after two rounds.
What’s interesting to me is the scene: Soldiers, after a long week’s work, watching a spectacle of bare-knuckled prowess intermixed with a well-placed stranglehold. Why the interest; what speaks to them about this event?
Perhaps, that interest is inherently tied to the fact that great Soldiers have made great boxers, like Ray Mercer, an Olympic Gold champion in 1988 who started boxing in the Army or, the team of Army boxers who represented the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics. Either way, the fighting spirit inside every Soldier lends itself to their being a fighter in every situation, every day.
The canvas of the boxing ring transposes itself beyond the ropes, just as the camouflage of daily wear is an aspect of life which is present beyond their shift. Every day is a fight against some undetermined challenger, and the lacing of your gloves will get knocked loose harder on some days compared to others.
That may be why Soldiers gather to watch a heavyweight fight for the ages, to see how the jaws of others hold up against the physical strain of a foe who punches their weight, pound-for-pound. From the first moment that the camouflaged ACUs are issued, it’s the grind of the fight that enters and the gloves are donned.
Cormier versus Lewis may not be a modern “Thrilla in Manila” or a “Sunshine Showdown,” but that interest which drives those who fight their way through a week to sit and watch others do the same is that they are fighters themselves.
Whether it’s putting on gloves like Mercer or just putting another foot in front of the other, we all cheer for the defending champs to be the last one standing while the referee calls “Down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier!”