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Well, isn’t this the most fascinating observation: it appears that Martial Artists with the most tattoos on their bodies don’t fare as well in fights.

Mind you, this isn’t a scientific analysis, just an observation based on watching a few UFC fights on the tube. The results of this unscientific survey, however, indicate that perhaps a deeper study should be considered.

To be specific, out of the last three UFC fights I viewed on television mixed martial artists with the most tattoos lost their fights, 67% to 33%.

Two thirds to one third, that means the untattooed fighters are winning twice as often as their decorated opponents.

There are a couple of factors that one should consider in this analysis, and these factors could skew the results, and perhaps severely.

One factor was deciding, when two fighters with tattoos were fighting a match, which fellow had the most flesh inked. Usually, but not always, this seemed fairly straightforward.

Another factor that seemed to count, be it loosely, was the type of tattoo a martial artist was adorned with. This factor is very hard to pin down, as the fighters are constantly shifting about and the camera doesn’t always pick out and define the tattoos. The single thing that seemed to prevail, however, was that people with religious tattoos seemed to lose more than people with ‘straight forward’ tattoos.

Now, here comes the speculation as to why this is happening.

One thought that immediately came to mind was the fact that members of the famous Yakuza gangster groups, when they do reach old age, tend to die of organ failure–I believe it was liver. One doctor surmised, with graph and thick reports, that the ink on the body stopped proper oxygen ingestion. This would indicate that the liver depends on oxygen taken in through the skin more than other organs. This was presented as a straight forward scientific study, but I have a lot of questions about this, and would like to get a copy of the document. And then perhaps even be able to read and understand the ‘medicalese’ involved in the study.

The other factor that might figure in in this notion that tattooed MMA fighters lose more than non-tattooed fighters, has to do with a person being ‘symboled.’

When somebody gets a tattoo, the usual reason is that it ‘looks so good.’ This would indicate that a person is more concerned with appearances than any actual function; would indicate that learning to fight is secondary to how he looks. This is an intriguing point, and one which I would put more credence in than the previously mentioned medical study.

At any rate, I will be glued to the television, come the next UFC extravaganza, searching for factors that explain this phenomenon. Who wears what kind of ink? How much ink is involved? What percentage of the flesh is needle painted? Can punching power be linked to the size of the ink stain? Is endurance at risk when a fighter has more artwork on his skin? Obviously, a sizable door has just swung open.


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