Forty seconds into the first round of the last-ever Underground Combat League show, a stray hunk of jewelry draws first blood. Back in his corner, the Taekwondo master repping Harlem, who had been holding his own in a grapple, has a dull bit of cheap gold-painted earring piercing his left calf muscle.
“The fuck is this, a fashion show?” the corner man asks.
If you have been following the Underground Combat League (UCL) for the full 13 years of its existence—most of those as the only mixed martial arts game in New York City—you already know that this is par for the course. Until very recently, if you wanted to see MMA in this town, you accepted it might include some unwanted body modification.