'Introduction of appropriate safety standards cannot come soon enough' - Minister edges closer to regulating MMA
The controversial sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is edging closer to being regulated, according to Minister for Sport Michael Ring.
It follows a meeting with MMA officials at which the minister said event organisers admitted safety standards were “in urgent need of very significant improvement”.
Moves are being made to establish a national governing body which would eventually fall under the umbrella of Sport Ireland.
Meetings on the issue are set to take place over the coming weeks.
The developments come in the aftermath of the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho following an MMA bout in Dublin last month.
In a statement, Mr Ring said he and Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy had met with representatives of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and its affiliated body in Ireland, the Irish Amateur Pankration Association.
“The MMA representatives made it clear at the meeting that they would welcome a formal process from which a reputable national governing body (NGB) for MMA in Ireland would emerge,” he said.
“The NGB, like all other NGBs that are recognised by Sport Ireland, would be responsible for setting and overseeing appropriate standards, including standards relating to safety and governance.”
The minister said Mr Treacy had outlined that there would be a rigorous process before official recognition could be given and this would require a significant focus on safety standards.
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The statement said various MMA stakeholders had now resolved to enter discussions on May 17 in a bid to establish a governing body which would then enter into the Sport Ireland NGB recognition process.
The minister added: “I welcome the acknowledgment on the part of MMA event organisers that safety standards at their events in Ireland are in urgent need of very significant improvement.
“I also welcome their intention to engage in Sport Ireland’s rigorous process of NGB recognition.
“While the untimely death of Joao Carvalho was a terrible tragedy, I hope that his passing would lead to some good and that lessons would be learned that would ensure that safety standards within MMA are improved to an acceptable level.
“The introduction of appropriate safety standards cannot come soon enough and I hope that all participants in MMA events, whether amateur or professional, youth or adult, would be protected by the introduction of those standards.”