It is a proven fact that athletes and promoters would both rather have entertaining and safer fights (protect their investment.) In professional wrestling, the wrestlers originally began working fights in order to take strain of off one another. According to Thesz, they would split the winners fee between two wrestlers rather than have a brutal match for the purse. This allowed them to recuperate and put on a better show.
In the case of mma, it would be much easier to work than pro-wrestling. For one, you have much fewer matches (less wear and tear.) Secondly, it’s not unreasonable that a trained fighter could take quite a concussive beating for show. Staged doesn’t mean fake. Watch some shoot style wrestling. Hell, think about how little money it took for Mick Foley to completely destroy his body.
In fact, rather than honorable, it is plain stupid to not stage the fights. Which I’m sure that the promoters just let the no name guys beat the hell out of one another anyway (they can’t draw money, but violence can.)