Can UFC Stand for Ultimate Fighting Christians

February 3, 2011

In a phrase, “Dang skippy.

And why not? Doesn’t the Bible say in Matthew 11:12, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

Well, if you have seen MMA in any form or promotion, you know this fits.

And if you don’t believe me, then ask a guy named Vitor Belfort. Read an excellent article by Jennifer Riley in The Christian Post. Or better yet, watch Vitor’s “I Am Second” video.

Yes, this man nicknamed “The Phenom” (who has a great chance to win the UFC middleweight championship this weekend), is a blood-bought, keepin-it-real, Jesus-loving Christian.

Is that possible?

This guy is one of the best middleweights/light heavyweights in MMA history. However, before new UFC fans knew his name, he knew God. How? Through a traumatic experience most can’t even begin to imagine. From the story:

In 2004, he captured the title of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. But in that same year he received devastating news that his sister was kidnapped in Brazil after their mother dropped her off at work. The family never found her body, but heard stories that more than 20 men raped her and killed her in the slums…

…Seeking a way to assuage his pain, Belfort began to pray. It was through praying that he heard God’s voice: “Son, it doesn’t matter how you look, how you think about your life, your sister belonged to me.”

An amazing testimony for an amazing guy. Why? Because he’s famous? No. Because he’s a fighter? Not really. Because he’s got a ‘I Am Second’ Video? Not so much.

It’s all those things, really. Watch his fights and you think this cat has a serious mean streak. Listen to his post-fight interview and you may mistake him for a preacher. Yet, people do not usually make fun of him.

I know, aside from the fact dude would slap a rear naked choke on you so fast, you would think you just swallowed wrong. No, UFC fans and staff alike leave his relationship with Christ alone because it’s real.

That’s all it takes for people to respect you as a child of God – a real commitment to Christ and being real in front of everyone else. That is is the difference between being given an opportunity to witness about God’s grace and being a hypocrite that only witnesses everyone pointing and laughing in your direction.

Vitor probably reads a Bible in his dressing room… right before he shadow boxes and imagines ripping Anderson Silva’s …um, someone’s arm clean out of its socket. Can you be saved and still do that? Vitor manages it just fine.

Behind the curtain, I was a martial artist for years. I am a huge fan of MMA. And my church even has a UFC Fight Night Bible study every pay-per-view. Why tell you that? Well, laugh if you want… but that group is one of the biggest in our church and one of the only in the state.

Yes, there’s others. And why? In fact, fighting ministries help churches reach out to men, who are less likely to attend services, believe in God or consider religion important in their lives, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Whatever your hobby, you can glorify Christ with it within reason. And whether viewing the bone-chilling tackles on a football field or admiring a sweet noma plata in the Octagon, it is still sport… and I can still be saved enjoying it.

This is not a Christian world, folks. Therefore, in the midst of it, we should just strive to be the image of Christ in this world for everyone to view, enjoy and want to emulate. Regardless of what people are doing or saying around you.

But don’t take my word for it:

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (1 Timothy 6:11-14 NLT).

So, that said. God bless my fellow martial artists of the world who practice with passion and praise God with purpose. Ooss! (And, here’s to hoping Jesus is watching UFC 126 and helps Silva slip on some sweaty canvas so Vitor can put him to sleep. Um, Amen.)

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