MMA Fighter Jarrod Wyatt Gruesomely Murders Partner Taylor Powell, But Calls to Ban the Sport Are Wrong

Mixed Martial Arts fighter Jarrod Wyatt recently pleaded guilty to murder and mayhem charges stemming from an incident that led to the death of his friend on March 4, 2010. Wyatt pleaded guilty to ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms with Taylor Powell, a friend and sparring partner, engaging in a physical argument about God and the devil, and killing Powell by removing his heart, tongue, and face while Powell was still alive. When police found him, he was naked and covered in blood. The heart was in a stove.

OK, so obviously, this is bad. Maybe there will be some silver lining from this, like a really good metal song or an Emmy-winning episode of Law & Order. But on the whole, bad. And when something so shocking and repulsive like this happens, it’s easy to throw blame around. People come to believe that MMA should be banned because it promotes violence and empowers violent individuals with the ability to hurt people, or that mushrooms should remain banned because they cause people to lose their minds. But that’s missing the point. MMA and mushrooms didn’t cause Jarrod Wyatt to cut his friend’s heart out.

He did this because he was crazy.

Look, I’ve trained in MMA. I’ve done mushrooms. (Granted, not at the same time. It’s on my bucket list, though.) And I can definitively say that I have never had the urge to cut another person’s heart out and throw it in a stove. Everyone I know who has trained MMA – amateurs, professionals and people who just do it for exercise – has never used their training to cut off someone’s face.  Everyone I know who has done mushrooms has never had the urge to kill someone over a dispute concerning a holy war between God and Satan. (They have, however, had a tendency to watch Planet Earth episodes and giggle incessantly.) Do you know why this is?

Because they’re not crazy.

The people who think combat sports encourage violence are the type of people who, in all likelihood, have never actually participated in those sports. Sure, there will always be a few fringe cases, but the same could be said for football, baseball, or any other sport. MMA actually instills discipline, patience, and a respect for violence that most people don’t possess. In fact, it’s been used as an effective method of reforming Islamic terrorists.

As MMA doesn’t cause people to become violent, psyclobin mushrooms don’t cause people to go crazy. Mushrooms might even be used as a means to treat depression and to improve mental health. We like to place the blame of obscene, insane actions on drugs or other outside stimuli because it makes us feel like we have a logical grasp on things. We have identified the problem, and so we can prevent it from happening again. Like the bath salts face-eater in Florida – we learned that bath salts cause people to lose control of themselves, so if people don’t use it, no one’s face will be eaten.

Of course, it turned out that bath salts were not involved in that incident. The man was just crazy. For some reason, that’s hard for people to accept. Sometimes there are lessons to be learned from horrible incidents like these. (For instance, crazy people probably shouldn’t be allowed to own guns.) But sometimes there isn’t anything to take from them. And this was one of those incidents. This man’s profession – if you can even call it that, considering he had only one pro fight – and his choice of recreational drug may have played a minute role in this gruesome incident. But the real reason this happened is fairly evident: He was crazy.

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George Shunick

George Shunick is a graduate of McGill University with a major in North American Studies and a minor in Philosophy. Fascinated by American politics, he spends his spare time learning jazz guitar, reading novels and comics, occasionally training in mixed martial arts, trying to find a job, and writing short biographies in the third person.

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