Remember when descriptions of a “barbaric bloodsport” were used to describe Mixed Martial Arts? Today the description has become completely irrelevant.
It’s a story we’ve endured, debated and defended for far too long – whether “cage fighting” should be allowed. What many people seem to be unaware is this is first and foremost about safety.
Calling it “cage fighting” is the first problem. Boxing isn’t “ring fighting”, so how does that make mixed martial arts (MMA) cage fighting? No matter where the competition takes place, the sport is MMA and it’s about time we all start calling a spade a spade. It is not a barbaric bloodsport.
It’s not the sport of MMA up for debate. It’s about the arena where it takes place. Adding a fenced-in enclosure like the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Octagon would greatly increase the safety of the athletes competing inside. That’s what this is about.
Starting out my professional MMA career in Melbourne, there was no avoiding competing in a boxing ring. In my debut fight, I was fearful not of my opponent, but at the chance of falling out of the ring. And that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully on that occasion we were both ok, but head, neck and spine injuries are common from falling out of boxing rings.
But that’s not what upsets me the most. I was outright offended by the false insinuations that MMA somehow provokes violence on our streets.
I’m a husband, father, teacher and four-time Olympian professional mixed martial artist. I’m not a thug who instigates or encourages any form of senseless street violence. For my government and my police chief to say otherwise is completely insulting to me and my chosen profession.
In fact, the opposite is true. Anyone who has trained in any form of marital arts will tell you it’s a humbling experience. Martial arts is all about discipline, respect, honor and humility. It’s the answer to street violence, not the cause. I know because I’ve seen it’s positive effects first hand as an instructor at Resilience Training Centre, where I teach kids from as young as four all the way to adults.
Despite the current negativity out there surrounding my sport, I do see a silver lining. It’s not only the MMA community that has defended the sport but an overwhelming number of the public, who see beyond the drivel and have voiced their own opinions.
It gives me hope that it’s a matter of time before MMA competitions in Australia are properly sanctioned and approved.