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Why Mixed Martial Arts Should Not Be Made an Olympic Sport

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Introduction

Mixed Martial Arts commonly referred to as (MMA), which is “a full contact sport that  combines different fighting styles such as karate, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, mostly combat practices, Muay Thai, and Ju Jitsu” and has become a fast growing popular sports in the United States both standing and on the ground.

The words martial arts were heavily associated with fighting arts of eastern Asia but its origin was from the combat system of Europe in the 14th century. It has been on the fast rise in recent times and a lot of people are taking interest in it for various reasons especially in the United States of America.

Mixed Martial Art Origin

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, popularly known as UFC, was founded in the United States of America in 1993 with very few rules, and it became a competition to determine the martial art that was most effective for unarmed combat situations . With the rise in competition among the fighters to be confirmed as the best, they came up with additional disciplines so as to be well equipped for the fights and this was the beginning of mixed martial arts. The UFC is currently the premier organization in mixed martial arts, it enforces the unified rules of the mixed martial arts and has organized fights in America and in other nearby countries (Trumpbour, 2009).

Out of the 50 states in the U.S., 45 have regulated the sport, while five did not. The five are New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Alaska and Wyoming (source: mmajunkie.com). A growing number of sport enthusiasts are becoming passionate about MMA. But while this is so, many also greatly oppose the sport for its brutality and bloodiness. There has been a major outcry by MMA fans lobbying for their favorite game to be made into an Olympic sport but many are against the proposition. Brutality and bloodiness of MMA was considered not to mention the brain damage that fighters are in danger of succumbing into in this sport, (Wert, 2006)

Mixed Martial Arts is a fun sport for some and mostly for the people who are risk takers and love trying new things, but other than that Mixed Martial Arts is a very dangerous sport that may lead to grave damages, especially to the fighters as they go about their sport. MMA should not be considered to be an Olympic sport, since most Olympics sports are watched by all ages and this may have a negative influence on kids who are still trying to find themselves or those who have anger and violent issues.

MMA rules and regulations

The rules and regulations of MMA have significantly changed over the years, and as the knowledge about the MMA techniques spread to a wider audience it became important to amend the original rules. The major reason for attempting to amend the rules was to try and make it a legitimate sport by erasing the public view of the sport that it was barbaric and had a lot of lawlessness.

  1. Weight classes

There was introduction of weight classes for the fighters and they came up with nine different weight classes; the flyweight (56.7 kg), bantamweight (65.2 kg), featherweight (65.8 kg), lightweight (60.3 kg) , welterweight (67.1 kg), middleweight ( 83.9 kg), light heavyweight (93 kg), heavyweight (120.2 kg) and finally super heavyweight with no upper limit of the fighter’s weight.

  1. Small, open fingered gloves
  2. The open fingered gloves were introduced to protect the fighter’s fists, to reduce the occurrence of cuts and also to encourage the fighters’ use of hands so as to enable the matches to be captivating. Most experienced fighters wear 4 oz gloves, while the amateurs are advised to wear 6 oz gloves.
  3.  Introduction of time limits

Time limits were introduced to the matches to enable a more captivating but short match and to avoid very long fights, whereby the fighters may injure themselves badly in the process as well as the viewers losing interest along he way. Regular matches were given a time limit of three minutes, while championships were given five minutes.

Major fighters in MMA

It must be worth mentioning in this study the best MMA fighters in the world, which include: Fedor Emelianenko, the number one Heavyweight MMA fighter in the world; Chuck Liddell, the number one Light Heavyweight MMA fighter in the world; Matt Lindland, the number one Middleweight MMA fighter in the world; Matt Hughes, the number one Welterweight MMA fighter in the world; and Takanori Gomi, the number one Lightweight MMA fighter in the world.

Discussion

Olympics have in time immemorial given its audience and the participants a spirit of competition and national pride, this happens every time the Olympic sports are around the corner. It is therefore understandable why there is the fuss about mixed martial arts becoming part of the Olympics, who wouldn’t love to see nations fighting against each other on a small ground so as they can be named as the best fighting country in the world. MMA fans want their sport to be featured in a big and most watched stage in the world; it is exciting that way since most viewers will be glued to a TV set or go to watch the Olympics live to support their country. Boxing, Judo and Wrestling are all Olympic sports and some proponents may argue why not bring in the sport that combines all the fighting styles of all these sports?

It must be noted (as mentioned above) that Mixed Martial Arts have been regulated in 45 states of the United States, and not in five other states. The leading state that disallows regulation of the sport is New York, and then Connecticut, Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska.

Reasons against Mixed Martial Arts becoming an Olympic sport

Mixed Martial arts should not at any point in time be an Olympic sport as it is not safe and may not have a positive impact on its viewers as well as the fighters themselves. Reasons against MMA becoming an Olympic sport include;

  • It is violent, brutal and does not have any redeeming qualities

One Jango Davis, an online commenter on timesunion.com said this about MMA:

It is a violent, brutal sport without any redeeming qua -lities. We are legalizing people punishing each other. That is not a sign of civilized behavior. We are sentencing boxers and MMA fighters to brain damage and other injuries for our own entertainment. What does that say about us as a society?

  • The leading supporting organization of mixed martial arts, the UFC, is a vast advocate of anti- homosexuality as well as sexual violence, and they do this through this sport.

The National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence early this year wrote the New York State Assembly urging them to reject legislation that would sanction mixed martial arts.

In the letter, Executive Director Deborah B. Tucker, said:

We believe that the UFC contributes to a culture of violence against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Children in particular should not be exposed to the homo -phobic, misogynistic and violent language that has been permitted by the UFC.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, referred to in the letter above is the leading organization that promotes combat sports in the United States. It’s president, Dana White, was working on having MMA sanctioned in the state of New York, hence the above letter of the National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence to the New York State Assembly to prevent New York State from legalizing Mixed Martial Arts.

  • The fighters of the Mixed Martial Arts have no respect for the sport

It has been noted that the participants of MMA have no respect for the sport and do not see it as an art but rather as a means of violence. This automatically disqualifies MMA as an Olympic sport, since it is not taken seriously by its participants themselves. ( Trumpbour, 2009).

Mixed martial arts is a mixture of many fighting styles

Mixed martial arts comprises of sports like boxing, judo, wrestling and taekwondo. These sports are currently on the Olympic Games because of their non- brutality. Mixed martial arts itself is a combination of all the fighting styles of the above mentioned sports. As it is commonly said, “Take the time and effort to master one fighting style and you’re revered; take the time and effort to master all of them and you are an animal” (Josh, R.) this is the case with MMA; the fighters get to learn all the fighting styles and blood is shed and may be even greater damage.

The fighters become violent in real life as they fail to distinguish the sport from their lives

This is a common practice as the fighters find themselves in an awkward positions, since they apply their fighting skills in simple matters that could be solved through amicable talk between the disagreeing parties. It was recently reported that a famous mixed martial arts fighter injured his girlfriend because they had a fight and in the process his pregnant girlfriend miscarried. Such practices by these fighters give the sport a bad publicity which is not a good idea to incorporate a sport with bad publicity in Olympic Games, (Marshall, 2011).  

Other setbacks disqualifying MMA

Other setbacks for MMA that would serve to disqualify it from becoming an Olympic sport were highlighted in some issues presented by New York Senator Liz Krueger during a debate on MMA in last year’s senate session in New York. Krueger said that:

  1. MMA requires participants to do the most damage possible;
  2. Studies show that strikes on the ground are delivered with 910 kilos of force;
  3. The media under report damage to fighters;
  4. Thirteen deaths have been reported prior to the establishment of the current organizations and guidelines;
  5. While boxing has a skill set to determine a winner, for MMA the measurement of success in the bout is through knockout or submission.

The brutality of MMA can be seen clearly from Senator Kruger’s statements above. The fact that the sport requires to do the most damage possible only proves that Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that goes beyond acceptable human norm. No wonder, there have been 13 deaths prior to the establishment of current umbrella organizations, especially UFC. The fact that the media under report damages caused in MMA fights, leads to misleading information about what happens in that sports, hence there is really lesser casualty in the sport after the establishment of guidelines and organizations.

A guest post in Bob Trumpbour titles “ MMA is too barbaric noted;

I found watching the sport exceedingly painful, and don't plan to watch it again any time soon. Senator John McCain, someone who is certainly familiar with man's inhumanity to man, called MMA bouts "human cockfighting," and I would agree. USA Today media critic Michael Hiestand described the first prime time CBS broadcast as one in which a fighter was left with a "grotesquely swollen ear" and had blood spurting out of his head "like a turned on faucet.

What proponents say to support there stand

Meanwhile, MMA fan, Ben Alves, came up with five reasons why Mixed Martial Arts should become an Olympic sport

  1. MMA is international. Alves cited the Sweden UFC event which shows how far the sport has gone, further mentioning past events held in countries like Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
  2. Women can fight, too. MMA in women’s division is also becoming big, according to Alves.
  3. Fighters in different promotions can fight each other, whereas if the Olympics have an MMA competition, fighters can test themselves against top UFC fighters without signing a contract with UFC.
  4. It is safer than people think it is.

The establishment of rules like no kicks in the head of a grounded opponent, and or no strike at the back of the head makes MMA safer than what most people think.

  1. It’s been an Olympic sport before. Citing the ancient Olympic Games, there was a sport called pankration, which means “all strengths,” that refers to the mix of fighting disciplines needed to participate in the sport, this was just like the MMA of today.

Disregard for the proponents stand

However, are the above reasons, strong and valid enough to make Mixed Martial Arts an Olympic sport?

  1. While Alves claims that MMA is an international sport having been played in Sweden, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Japan, that is not enough reason to be considered into the  Olympic Games for the requirement is that it must be  practiced in 70 countries of the world (50 countries for woman players).
  2. While women are also into Mixed Martial Arts the requirement to be considered as an Olympic sport is that it is played in 50 countries of the world for the women division.
  3.  There is a possibility that top MMA fighters won’t be so interested in fighting in the Olympic, where they get nothing, and lose some chances of getting into more profitable competition, since the sport is too violent and any injuries they will get from the Olympic fights will surely prevent them for a while from joining any real big fights. (Source: fightclub.ws)
  4. The establishment of safer guidelines in Mixed Martial Arts will never guarantee a clean and safe fight since the sport is of violent nature from the beginning and a non-violent MMA is not MMA at all.
  5. The existence of Pankration in the ancient times speaks of the less civilized nature of the people during the time. Today, people have evolved into a civilized nature where

Games of Pankration or its similarities, as in MMA, are not acceptable. 

There are far more many reasons why Mixed Martial Arts cannot let it  become an Olympic sport. Its being too violent cannot make it pass the standard requirement of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that accepts sports to the event. Previous fatalities in MMA events will further likely disqualify it from getting the IOC recognition. Another thing is that the brutality of the game will leave no enough time for injuries to heal before the next round of game will ensue. In MMA, after a match, fighters take long breaks to heal (source: fightclub.ws), and that shows the impossibility for MMA fighters to come back to the game in two to three days, as the Olympic competition requires.

Sports requirements that disqualify MMA

Further to the above, the following are the sport requirements to be admitted into the Olympics: (Source: wiki.answers.com)

  1. It needs to have an International Federation that governs the sport, sets and enforces rules, organizes tournaments, etc.;
  2. It needs to be practiced in at least 50 countries (female sports) and 75 countries (male sports);
  3. It needs to hold World Championships;
  4. It needs to be recognized by the IOC;
  5. It needs to be voted in to the games by a 2/3 majority of IOC members at the first IOC meeting following each Olympic game considering the above, it goes without saying that it would be hard for Mixed Martial Arts to get accepted into the Olympic Games. For one, it does not have an International Federation that governs the sport,

sets and enforces rules, and organizes tournaments. Likewise, it is not practiced in 50 (for women players) or 70 (for male players) countries in the world. “The only countries that allow MMA are Britain, Canada (but not Ontario and some other towns), Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Korea and Germany. It has been banned in France, New Zealand and Norway.” (Source: sherdog.net)

Likewise, it has not held World Championships, there is greater possibility that it cannot be recognized by the IOC because of its violent nature, and there’s the same greater possibility that it cannot be voted by a 2/3 majority of IOC members following first meeting after an Olympic game because again of the violent nature of the game that makes it unsuitable to meet the requirements and program of the Olympic competition, (Adam, 2006).

Taking into account the above considerations, this paper supports the view that Mixed Martial Arts should not be made an Olympic sport because of, first and foremost, its violent nature that reduces the human dignity, or of those of the fighters. Mixed Martial Arts may be considered as the counterpart of Pankration, the “all strength” game during the ancient civilization that pitted the men against each other using all their faculties and strength, and that  obviously lost its place in the society as the world evolved into a civilization that empower people that are truly human in nature nature. Obviously, that same Pankration is trying to creep back into the world today through Mixed Martial Arts, and this is indeed a sad reality as it signals man’s tendency, or willingness, to devolve back to primitive thinking and attitude that embodies people with barbaric characteristics during the ancient times. 

Most proponents say that the sport could be made Olympic by adjusting a few rules like wearing of headgear for the participants, removal elbow and knee use, and changing the score as well. However, this does not justify it being an Olympic sport; even after amending the rules to tone down the violence and brutality that comes with MMA; it will be a hard task finding a talent pool to draw competitors from. This sport as researched before does not have an amateur system of its own like other old sports do, hence it will be a big mistake and impossible to use amateur fighters as it is done in boxing.

Additionally, MMA is not a collegiate sport, thus, cannot pull a few college mates who played the sport as it is done in wrestling. Even if they go the basketball way of using their professional to compete, UFC will not allow that to happen. The professional will have to take at least one year to practice for the Olympics and that would be wasted time for the UFC, since they would be better off conducting a championship and the professionals would risk having injuries that could end their careers just because of a medal.

People must stand guard against any threat to dehumanize society and we must protect ourselves from getting pulled back to ancient-like thinking and attitude. Mixed Martial Arts way of hurting, or fighting, in the caged arena is truly a departure from a true human standpoint. One way to guard ourselves from said human devolution is to not patronize Mixed Martial Arts with its inhuman fighting stances and to do all our best to prevent it from becoming a recognized Olympic sport. Bringing Mixed Martial Arts to the Olympic level is an approval of Mixed Martial Arts and, therefore, an approval to anything that makes man less human and more atrocious in nature.

Further, we must likewise protect our children and the young minds. Allowing Mixed Martial Arts become an Olympic sport will signal a different message to children, and the young minds alike. A message that is more harmful than helpful.

Conclusion

Judging from the above, it is evident that mixed martial arts should not at all become an Olympic sport. It is too violent and may lead to negative effects on children, and others may even practice the moves on other defenseless kids. The fighters themselves are at risk due to brain damage and other fatal injuries that may face the fighters.

The international Olympic committee requirements are also another reason mixed martial arts will not make it to the Olympic sports, because most of the requirements cannot be met by MMA. If the MMA makes it to the Olympics can you imagine the stunned looks, the horrible silence, the open mouths and the covered eyes that will come from the audience both at home and those who would be watching live. It is unlikely people will recover from such an incident. How people could coil in horror when one fighter wrestles the other on the ground grabbing him by the neck or when one fighter hits the other till blood gashes out and the fight still continues. Phone calls will be made, newspapers will write reviews and editorials and the international Olympic committee will be in big trouble and the MMA will retract ten steps backwards to what it was 20 years ago, a disapproved sport. It will be a loose- loose situation if the mixed martial arts were to be an Olympic sport.

If MMA becomes an Olympic sport, it won’t be exactly as it is now and it will lose its meaning, for it to be one, they will have to cut down on the violence, the fighters will be required to wear more protective gear so as to be in the PG zone of entertainment. The MMA will lose its meaning and what it stands for hence for its fans; it should not be made an Olympic sport. It’s time we face the facts that MMA is what it is; its brutal, violent, terrifying, harrowing, dangerous and completely out of place for the Olympic competition’s motto of safety first. The MMA fighting styles are not entertainment, like a friendly family enjoyes the long jumps or the water polo, MMA is a bit darker than that and its time people realized that. Marathons, swimming and Gymnastics, these are sports in the classic sense since one person’s skill is being put on display, MMA on the other hand is a sugar coated term where two people are willing to go to all lengths to beat up the other, hence the international Olympic committee should stand firm in their quest to keep MMA out of the Olympics docket and it should remain where it is right now.

That said, Mixed Martial Arts with their most violent nature are not an acceptable sport for a civilized society, hence it should not be patronized, moreover elevated to the Olympic status where only clean and honest, and life giving sports are played, all of which are what Mixed Martial Arts truly are not.

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