MMA safer than boxing
Date: 2012-03-25 00:00:00
Submitted By: Come Get You Some
Men hitting each other. For money. In Canada. The horror. Won’t somebody think of the children? No, Helen Lovejoy hasn’t ventured from Springfield to Calgary to protest the coming of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts’ premiere event. But you’d think so, if you read comments from the head of the Canadian Medical Association, who is dredging up an 18-month-old plea now that UFC is looking to a larger foothold in a country that is a hotbed of support for the sport. Dr. John Haggie, president of the CMA, wasted no time after the Sun broke the story that the UFC was coming to Calgary this summer, trotting out the old stereotypes about mixed martial arts, and using the profile of the sport to reiterate an 18-month-old call for a ban on the sport. Like boxing, the CMA argues, MMA should be banned in Canada, because — my stars — someone may get hurt, and the whole thing is a bad influence on our country’s kids, nothing more than two guys out to pummel the hell out of each other. The notion of two men in a ring or octagon, trying to overpower each other with punches, kicks, knees, elbows or holds is not appealing to many people. Just as the violent hits in hockey and football make some people queasy. Which is fine. To borrow words from the UFC boss Dana White, who held court at the Calgary Sun last week after announcing UFC 149: “Do what I do when golf comes on. I change the f---ing channel.” No one is making anyone watch UFC, or support UFC, or even to accept UFC. But the sport’s opponents need to accept that it is popular, and that people are not just willing participants, but are devoting their lives to honing their craft and getting themselves in peak condition. And they’re doing it in a sport that is overall safer than boxing. Yes. Safer than boxing. Fewer concussions than football. Not only does MMA have a knockout rate about half that of boxing, according to a Johns Hopkins study, but in the 20 years since the creation of UFC, just two people have died in the sport. There have been as many deaths among Canadian skiers in the last six months as there have in the history of MMA. And the two MMA deaths did not involve White’s UFC. And, if a fighter gets knocked out, they’re on a 90-day suspension, which also includes head contact at the gym. Ban it? It makes no sense, and that frustration is shared by UFC Canada director Tom Wright. “It’s really frustrating and we get these questions all the time,” he said while he was at the Sun. They’re dealing with “people who have developed entrenched opinions based on opinion and subjectivity, rather than fact and objectivity,” Wright said. And it’s been like that for a long time. This isn’t a new argument. People within the sport have been forced to defend it for years, and for regular readers of this space, yours truly took issue with the CMA’s original call for a ban. But as the sport makes inroads in Canada, Dana White, Tom Wright and the rest of its defenders can expect more people coming out with arguments that, while compelling, do nothing but raise unnecessary fear over the sport. The sport is here to stay in Canada. As long as fighters and promoters are taking all the precautions they can and are asked of them, critics should butt out.