MMA punch in the face ()MMA punch in the face () © Copyright

Should MMA be banned?

Mixed martial arts has never been so popular, but should it be stopped? We speak to two experts to find out...


By Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of the brain injury association Headway

“Let’s not kid ourselves. MMA is a brutal spectacle where the objective is to incapacitate your opponent, rendering them senseless by kicking and punching them in the head. You do not have to be a brain surgeon to realise that repeatedly pounding on someone’s head can irreversibly damage a person’s brain.

“Too many individuals are forced to struggle on a daily basis with the devastating effects of brain injuries sustained in unavoidable circumstances, such as accidents or illness. It is difficult for those families to comprehend why someone would willingly put themselves at risk of lifelong disability or death.

“If participants of MMA understood what it meant to lose a loved one or struggle to walk or feed themselves, perhaps they’d think twice before entering the ring. A blind faith that ‘it won’t happen to me’ isn’t enough.

“MMA sees angry crowds baying for blood from combatants lured into imposing cages to risk their health for the promises of riches which will likely never arrive.

UFC bloody faced fighting ()


“While MMA promoters sit comfortably on the sidelines counting their money, participants risk paying the ultimate price in the name of this barbaric form of entertainment.

“To those who pay to watch MMA, I ask you this: would you honestly be happy to see your son or daughter being repeatedly pounded in the head in front of a screaming mob? Would you be able to look them in the eye afterwards and tell them that, though they may never live independently or even feed themselves again, they’d made the right decision to take part in MMA?

“There is no conceivable way in which MMA can even remotely be considered safe. How many more young people need to die before we take action?”

Headway has recently launched their ‘If in doubt, sit it out’ campaign for all amateur sports players. Visit


By Densign White, judo Olympian and CEO of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation

“The growth of MMA is astonishing and there’s no way of putting that genie back in the bottle. We are doing everything we can to make it safer. Competitors must undergo annual, pre-fight and post-fight medical examinations in order to compete, ringside doctors and paramedics are provided to mitigate risk, and injured or concussed competitors are subject to medical suspensions.

Elite level fighters (UFC) must clear MRI scans, and the IMMAF is introducing mandatory CT scans for all fighters that have been KO’d or TKO’d during a fight. We are also doing a lot of work behind the scenes to educate and train referees and judges. A ban would force MMA underground, and without proper regulation I really would fear for the safety of competitors.

UFC punch face ()


“We don’t want anyone to get hurt. But it’s a combat sport, so there’s always going to be a risk. Research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine has shown MMA to be statistically safer than boxing. There’s a lower rate of concussion injuries because of fewer blows to the head. Concussion is also a concern in other sports such as rugby, ice hockey and horse riding. Someone died running the London Marathon this year, and it isn’t the first time that’s happened. Are they trying to ban that?

“Martial arts is great to get into. It keeps you fit, teaches respect, disclipline and builds self-esteem. When I was involved with judo we would always have parents bring their kids who were being bullied at school. We weren’t teaching them how to fight, we were teaching confidence.

“MMA is a sport loved by millions. We hear a lot about freedom of speech and expression, so why try to deny someone the opportunity to participate in something fundamentally positive?”

The 2016 IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA take place in Vegas, 5 -11 July

Image: Press Association


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