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When will we see a concerted effort to regulate Irish MMA?

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

13:09 16 Oct 2018

As soon as Khabib Nurmagomedov vaulted the cage in Las Vegas 10 days ago and pandemonium reigned in the T-Mobile Arena, skeptics of mixed martial arts once again question the merits of the sport.

Think pieces were written and, on a lot of fronts, MMA took a battering of its own. The legitimacy of the sport was called into question. In Ireland, it remains unrecognized by Sport Ireland and officially unregulated. 

On Tuesday's #OTBAM, we spoke to Professor Jack Anderson, Director of Sports Law at Melbourne Law School, to discuss the reputation of the sport among wider society.

"The one thing I would say about the UFC is, and this probably reflects Joe Brolly's article, is in the most recent fights, you see a lot of blood," he said.

"In boxing, and the way boxing has gone now, it's a lot to do with headshots. The bleeding is inside the brain.

"You have to face up to the fact that in both UFC and boxing, direct and intentional violence is the name of the game. It's the hurt business.

"So the best thing you can do is regulate it."

Professor Anderson explained that he had previously worked with Sport Ireland in an effort to find the best path for MMA regulation in the country and what difficulties stood in their way.

"The problem in Ireland was figuring out who was in the MMA community. You can regulate a sport like GAA through its clubs, the same way with soccer.

"But are there clubs in Ireland? Are they just gym memberships or what exactly are they?

"There are entities in Ireland that are doing it. We met with John Kavanagh and the likes, so there are people doing it, but it's about getting the critical mass of people to do it."

He added: "I'm of the view that it should be regulated.

"I think you're much better off being transparent about the regulation of it. I think though, in an indirect way, what happens in the UFC does have a negative effect.

"People in sports administration, there are a lot of people in combat sport who don't want to regulate MMA."

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