Professional mixed martial artists in the UK will have to sign up to the newly-launched Safe MMA campaign in 2013, or find themselves unable to compete on shows staged by the countries leading promoters.
Several of the UK's leading organisations – including BAMMA, UCMMA and Cage Warriors – all signed up to the new Safe MMA programme at its launch at the ‘Centre for Health and Human Performance’ at 76 Harley Street in London last week.
Safe MMA is a not-for-profit medical project, set up with the goal to help make MMA in the UK safe by offering fighters a yearly medical and twice-a-year blood tests to monitor health risks.
UFC referee Marc Godard is on the board, along with Cage Warriors director Graham Boylan, UCMMA’s Dave O’Donnell and Jude Samuel from BAMMA. Whilst Harley Street is represented by Dr Michael Loosemore and Dr Jack Kreindler.
“Safe MMA is a culmination of a common goal and a single belief from like-minded people in the UK who all want the same thing,” Goddard states. “For me there’s simply no other place to start than, simply by the role that I adopt now, and the role that people know me best for, and of course that’s being a mixed martial arts referee.”
He continued: “Initially, by bringing together the most established promotions, with the general consensus of doing the right thing – being Cage Warriors, BAMMA and UCMMA – we had the foresight of kick-starting this movement.
“What we did didn’t want to do was have what people may perceive as a closed room of individuals, coming up with a vision, a belief, a format or a working model and then trying to bring that to the forefront.
“My belief was a lot stronger than that, and I was very single-minded in the fact that when we went to market this it was already a working idea. I think in the past, we’ve heard lots of guys who want to do things, but the last thing we wanted to do was make an announcement of what we plan to do. We wanted to make an announcement on something that was current.
There remains some scepticism of the project, as MRI scans are not included in the medical package, which will cost all professional UK fighters £235 just for the pack. The reasoning for not including MRI’s – widely accepted as the best way to monitor brain conditions – was put down to cost. Hardly the right direction for a group set up to ensure fighter safety.
Those involved in Safe MMA appear to be very keen in trying to clean up the sport and make sure fighters are less at risk than they currently are. But some big questions were raised at last week's launch in the capital – many of which remain unanswered.