Tuesday 26 September 2017

Death of fighter won't slow down MMA juggernaut

Despite Joao Carvalho's death, cage fighting is growing in popularity ­- and respectability, says Eamonn Sweeney

TRAGIC: Joao Carvalho, who died in Beaumont Hospital last Monday following a mixed martial arts event. Photo: Solarpix
TRAGIC: Joao Carvalho, who died in Beaumont Hospital last Monday following a mixed martial arts event. Photo: Solarpix

Eamonn Sweeney

Last week's death of Joao Carvalho after a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bout in Dublin has led to calls for the sport to be banned in this country, with Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy suggesting there may be "no place for it in Ireland". But the irony of this is that it comes at a time when MMA has reached a high point in terms of sporting respectability worldwide.

On Thursday, just three days after Carvalho's death, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that made New York the 46th US State to legalise MMA.

The signing ceremony took place at Madison Square Garden, perhaps the world's most famous boxing venue, which will now host its first MMA event in November. The symbolism of the moment was hard to miss. MMA has become respectable.

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