On Aug. 23-25, the British Columbia Medical Association will present its resolution to have Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) banned in Canada to the Canadian Medical Association during its annual general meeting.
This week, Ontario’s Minister of Consumer Services Sophia Aggelonitis announced that the ban on MMA in the province would be lifted starting in 2011, opening the largest Canadian market to a sport that has grown exponentially in the last five years.
It seems there may be some conflict with doctors looking to keep the violent sport out of the country, while organizations like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) push to bring the sport across the 49th parallel.
MMA has been around since the early 1990s, with various other organizations sanctioning and holding fights in other countries.
However as a hockey and football-loving nation, MMA has stayed off the radar in Canada, until now.
Banning the sport is a sensible option, if you want to dodge the fact that the sports popularity is not only growing on TV, but in local gyms, and most of all with the youth who look up to these modern day gladiators.
MMA is a very violent sport. True.
Injuries happen during fights. True.
Not allowing sanctioned fighting in my country will ensure no fighter will get hurt here. I doubt it.
The fact of the matter is that allowing athletic commissions to sanction the fighting, or bringing organizations like the UFC, which have very strict medical guidelines that are in place to protect the fighters, is the only way to avoid long-term injuries and brain trauma.
To fight in the UFC and many local promotions, a fighter has to go through a battery of medical examinations to see if that athlete’s body is prepared to fight, and if there are any pre-existing conditions that may surface during the bout.
A fighter making his MMA debut in South Carolina died this June after taking repeated strikes to the head.
Many said the local organization did not conduct the right medical testing prior to the bout, and the fighter should never have stepped into the cage.
He was the second person to die in a sanctioned MMA fight in U.S. history.
Outspoken UFC President Dana White stated, after the news of the South Carolina athlete’s death, that MMA is the “safest sport in the world when done properly.”
“I don’t care what state it is, what commission, if that company doesn’t have enough money to do the proper medical tests on the fighters before and after the fight, go open a… doughnut shop,” he said. “Guys have come on the show, for The Ultimate Fighter, with brain injuries and all these sorts of problems, and they’re detected. You get a CAT scan. You get an MRI. You get an EKG, a full battery of tests before you go in and compete. When that’s done you find the stuff that’s wrong.”
With or without a ban on the sport, MMA will continue in unsanctioned instances, or more alarmingly in backyards.
I think that while the sport is violent, Canadian doctors need to bring their medical expertise to the table to help the sport grow in Canada, and help ensure fatalities stay out of the sport, and that the proper measures are taken to protect fighters.