I apologize that my post came off as aggressive, but when you start out by framing the question about how “leftists could enjoy bloodsport” maybe that isn’t the most constructive way of enquiring about a subject? either way, I overreacted and I apologize.
Your point about inherent risks in sports is point well worth making, and MMA has come a long way in those regards as well. referee stoppages are getting quicker and they are acutely aware and focused on stopping a match before either one of the combatants endure any unnecessary harm. It is one of the main reasons why people argue that MMA is safer than Boxing because you are less likely to absorb more damage after the initial hit.
There has also been a lot of focus on minimizing weight cuts because of how damaging it can be to the athletes in the long term. All in all MMA is honestly well over a decade removed from being comparable to basic bar room brawls.
Now, that isn’t to say that slugfests don’t ever happen and that they aren’t necessarily entertaining in their own way, but I honestly don’t feel like the entertainment is derived from the violence, per se. To me, personally, it stems much more from seeing the battle of wills and guts, seeing two fighters let caution fly to the wind and simply seeing who is the toughest. It’s like watching Kyrie Irving go one on one and toe to toe with Steph Curry. It’s high noon gunslinging and drama, the struggle to survive and claim victory. The health concerns attached to this are absolutely real and concerning, just like Irving and Currys shootouts might not be the optimal route to victory, and thankfully you don’t see it very often anymore, but there is an inherent appeal to it. It’s not a matter of “look how badly they are hurting each other” as much as it is a matter of “look how badly they want it!”
In the same way that Ayrton Senna or Schumacher would engage in risky and often downright dangerous maneuvers was an expression of their will to win which captivated the F1 fans, the will to will to win that causes guys like Carlos Condit and Chan Sung Jung to throw caution to the win and fight with reckless abandon captivates the MMA audience. similarly both can have harmful, and in the case of Formula 1 even fatal, consequences but we watch them take these risks regardless.