The MMA scene is rapidly growing in Australia, with a growing number of local promotions and high level gyms propping up in recent years. They’ve also produced numerous UFC stand outs such as Kyle Noke, Soa Palelei, Robert Whittaker and others, but competing in a cage still isn’t legal in Australia’s most densely populated state.
MMA competition in Victoria had been relegated to be only held in rings, and while the surface has produced some controversial results — such as Gustavo Falciroli’s near win being turned to a No-Contest when his opponent fell through the ropes — there have been calls to finally legalize competing in a cage.
To discuss the topic, popular mainstream outlet ‘Sunrise‘ released a segment with two parties that debated the legalization of the cage in chairman of the Victorian Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board, Bernie Balmer and head of Emergency at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, Gordian Fulde.
You can watch the clip and read the transcript below:
Host: Why do you think cage fighting should be allowed in Victoria?
Bernie Balmer: Of all the evidence that we have been able to collate over a long period of time, we believe that the Octagon and if I can just explain that, it’s an 8 sided environment which allows the fighters or the combatants to remain within an area that we think is a lot safer than in a convention boxing ring where combatants have the propensity to go through the rings or over the top of the ring. So we as a board, think that the Octagon is a safer environment.
Host: Gordian, the sport is legal in many areas. Is the concern here going through the side of a boxing ring? We are watching pictures of it, they are getting punched in the head, they are getting kicked. What are the dangers of this sport?
Gordian Fulde: What it is, first of all, it’s what is going out there, it’s all the rules of engagement. Here we have, if you look at the winning championship fights, people are astrayed somebody who can’t move and they are just punching, punching, punching, they have got very thin gloves. Free fingers and it’s just the rules of engagement is everything we don’t want. Stomping is legal at times.
All these things that bring patients to emergency repeated head injuries and even athletes. This is something we now know is a bad thing in the long and short term.
Basically the whole concept is that people love to see it, it’s very successful and financially rewarding for things, but is this a this what we want our society to say? That the rules of engagement are this free for fall where you pin somebody down and punch the hell out of them.
Host: Bernie, Gordian has a point there. This is like, it’s legal to hit somebody when they are down, to kick them when they are down, it really is glamorizing street violence beings isn’t it?
Bernie Balmer: I don’t agree with that I mean, life is about choice. You can talk about rugby and facial injuries, you can talk about horse racing and deaths in horse racing but they don’t call for the ban on those particular sports.
It’s a consensual contest. The environment within the Octagon is a safer environment. Does it glamorize street violence? No, the problem with street violence is drugs and alcohol. They don’t close nightclubs because there’s a fight out the front. So look, life is about choice, and those that wish to participate in this discipline ought to be allowed to.
Host: Gordian, Bernie calls it a discipline. Do you think there is much discipline involved?
Gordian Fulde: I go back to the thing, it’s the animal behavior which is now becoming a spectacle, and I really think this is what our young people don’t have to see and think this is how you have a fight. Really, this is what worries me.
Sure, if it was only athletes, and the other thing about the ring versus the cage, I mean, one of the manoeuvres if you have eat got a cage is to pin the person between the cage and the mat and so they are really in the corner and then you just pummel the hell out of them until they – they are supposed to be able to submit, but obviously, being in such an environment, adrenaline, trying to win, there will be a lot of damage happening here. It really isn’t a good look. It isn’t what we want put out there.
First off, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts is already legal in the country, and it’s only the legalization of a fighting surface that is being talked about now. That main point was barely touched on during the segment and a supposedly 1 on 1 debate turned into two hosts and a medical professor all arguing against one person about how the entire sport, and not just the fighting surface, shouldn’t be legal.
That didn’t quite seem like a fair and unbiased segment to me, but either way, I can’t really blame them. It is pretty clear that while the sport has been growing in Australia, outside the MMA bubble there is still a lot of work to be done with educating the masses as they lead up to the legalization of the cage.
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