Sport on Radio: Cage-fighting may be a golden egg until someone smashes it

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The Independent Online

When a lady called Felicity Finch makes a programme for Radio 4 about cage-fighting, you have to wonder if perhaps she is going out of her comfort zone, if not her mind. One of the first voices you hear – disembodied, though not literally – says, "There's nothing like knocking someone out. It's like an orgasm," and you realise straightaway that this ain't The Archers. But when Finch catches her first piece of the action, she breathlessly intones: "My first instinct is to join in." Well, an orgasm's an orgasm. Perhaps it's more Book at Bedtime territory.

For Inside the Cage (BBC Radio 4, Wednesday) Finch is following Mike Wood as he makes his competition debut, and Wood smoothly connects with his Radio 4 audience by suggesting: "Think of it like a tango, there's a lead and a follow. There's a moment where it will change, in a fluid movement." Yes, and like a tango it's all about sex and violence, and when the music stops someone has to clean up all the blood.

Cage-fighting's rapid rise in popularity may stem from the fact that it provides an antidote to the multimillion-dollar theatrics of WWE wrestling. Consultant anaesthetist Dr Peter Maguire wants these "Mixed Martial Arts" banned with their "guillotine" moves and "rear naked choke" and the "triangle", whereby you put your legs around your opponent's neck and squeeze to cut off the carotid artery supplying the brain with oxygen. Now that is kinky.

For all the supposed lack of theatrics in MMA, it comes as no great surprise to hear that Wood is simultaneously starring in a local pantomime production of Aladdin. When you hear the kids screaming "He's behind you!", you know you had better start running. There is a certain charm in Wood turning up to a training session the next day still sporting red nail varnish on his toes.

However, when he almost blacks out in his defeat to a Welshman with a pink mohican, it's obvious Wood cannot gloss over the dangers of this new sporting farce. But it's too late to put the genie back in the bottle now.

* There will, no doubt, be a hint of pantomime to the opening ceremony of London 2012. According to the first instalment of What Went Wrong with the Olympics? (Radio 4, Wednesday), Ian Hislop and Nick Newman's four-part guide to one of the great sporting catastrophes, the men will be dressed as Jack the Rippers and girls as "Victorian ladies of the night" to give the occasion an East End theme, with giant inflatable Kray twins and Jack "The Hat" McVitie – "Ouch, that's got to hurt!" It was supposed to be about the Black Death until an outbreak of plague in a hospital caused a change of heart.

There are problems, too, with the Olympic village. Lloyd Waterhouse, the head of the Committee for Olympic Co-ordination and Unified Planning (Cocup), said: "Think Glastonbury, think the Isle of Wight, think young people coming together in tents. They bring their own tents, of course." It still sounds preferable to the athletes' village in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games.

And since next year's Glastonbury festival has been cancelled because all the nation's portable toilets will be in London for the Games, it may not be far from the truth. As another Loyd might have said: "Who would live in an Olympic village like this?"

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