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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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British promotion postpones Dublin MMA event to implement new medical standards

BAMMA 26, featuring several top Irish fighters, was scheduled to take place at the 3Arena on 4 June.

Brendan Loughnane landing a knee on Tom Duquesnoy at BAMMA 22 in Dublin last September.
Brendan Loughnane landing a knee on Tom Duquesnoy at BAMMA 22 in Dublin last September.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

ONE OF EUROPE’S leading mixed martial arts promotions has taken the decision to postpone an event which was scheduled to take place in Dublin next month.

BAMMA 26, which was due to feature top Irish fighters such as Chris Fields, Paul Redmond and Dylan Tuke at the 3Arena on 4 June, has now been pushed back to 10 September.

The move comes in the aftermath of the tragic death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho, who passed away on 11 April as a result of brain injuries he sustained during a TKO loss in a bout in Dublin that had taken place 48 hours earlier.

Calls to introduce regulation of MMA in Ireland have since grown louder, with sports minister Michael Ring confirming last week that work is “progressing” regarding the recognition and regulation of the sport.

This afternoon, BAMMA announced that, having consulted “the Irish sporting, medical and political community”, the promotion has decided to postpone their 4 June event in order to create sufficient time to implement new medical standards.

This will involve the introduction of mandatory MRI/MRA scans for fighters, although BAMMA — while striving to meet the standards set by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as adhered to by top US promotions such as the UFC — explained that the measure is not part of any official process of regulation just yet.

A statement released to fighters, which was obtained by MMA Plus, reads:

As most of you are aware, the recent tragedy that occurred within Irish MMA has led to numerous ongoing discussions in regard to regulation and how to make the sport safer for participants. Whilst no regulation has currently been announced, discussions with leading experts in the medical field have led BAMMA to make the decision to introduce mandatory pre-fight MRI/MRA scans for fighters. This means that every BAMMA fighter will be subject to an annual MRI/MRA scan which will serve as important additional protection for the fighter, whilst bringing BAMMA events even closer to NSAC standards. After consultation within the Irish sporting, medical and political community, a consensus has been reached that it is vital to introduce these scans for the BAMMA 26 event. With this in mind, and to allow the facilitation of these scans for all fighters, a decision has been made to move the BAMMA 26 event from 4 June to 10 September. This will leave three months of preparation for fighters to organise scans and for them to be reviewed by relevant medical experts. Whilst a change in date will always cause certain complications, BAMMA believe that this is a hugely positive and imperative step that needs to be taken. All bouts will carry forward to the new date.”

It’s understood that each fighter will be required to cover the cost of their scan, and that BAMMA’s next event — BAMMA 25, which takes place this weekend in Birmingham — will go ahead as planned without being subject to the same medical requirements.

In a separate statement released to the media, BAMMA CEO David Green said: “We understand and welcome the fact that regulation for this sport is being put in place here in Ireland. But whilst we await this regulation and the results from the numerous discussions that are currently taking place, we have taken the step to introduce mandatory MRI/MRA scans for all of our fighters for the BAMMA 26 event onwards.”

inpho_00966478 Dubliner Chris Fields is due to headline BAMMA 26 against light-heavyweight champion Paul Craig. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Until now, BAMMA’s safety procedures for fighters have involved annual medical examinations — as well as additional medicals before and after each bout — and blood-testing for Hepatitis B, C and HIV. The promotion also has qualified medical staff on site for each event, along with a fully equipped emergency treatment centre and ambulances on standby should hospital checks be necessary.

“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,” Michael Ring said in a statement last Friday.

“I also welcome their intention to engage in Sport Ireland’s rigorous process of NGB [National Governing Body] recognition. The introduction of appropriate safety standards cannot come soon enough.

“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.”

BAMMA added that tickets for the rescheduled event will remain valid but refunds are also available.

“These measures make MMA safer; a Rubicon moment,” said Professor Dan Healy, a consultant neurologist at Beaumont Hospital. “BAMMA have set a new standard that I encourage others to follow. We must all work together on this.”

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Paul Dollery

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