The Canadian Medical Association is warning MPs that revising the wording around prize fights in Canada’s Criminal Code to include MMA would be a mistake. Last year a bill was introduced to change Section 83 (2) of the code so it expands the definition of prize fighting to include not just boxing, but also mixed martial arts.
Everyone knows mixed martial arts (MMA) is legal—otherwise there some authorities asleep at the wheel when more than 55,000 set a UFC attendance record in Toronto back in 2011—but provincial athletic authorities now permit the sport to operate.
Dr. Anna Reid recently appeared before the Commons justice committee looking at the proposed legislation to voice the CMA’s concerns. aMong many other things, she said, “cage fighting, like boxing, is distinct from many other sports, in that the basic intent of the fighter is to cause harm in order to incapacitate his or her opponent… And an activity in which the overriding goal is to pummel one’s opponent into submission does not promote good health.”
At which point every fight fan in the world said, “No kidding!” The idea that people could get hurt in an MMA fight is not exactly breaking news and it’s probably the good doc’s place to be the outlying voice of medical reason. Thing is, people LOVE watching other people pummel opponents into submission. It’s a thing.
And it just so happens, Canadians are pretty good at it. In fact, Quebec’s Georges St. Pierre may be the best known Canadian athlete ever. As UFC president Dana White said a few years ago, ”I like Wayne Gretzky. I was just with him, his wife and his kids a month ago over at one of the casinos here in Las Vegas. Super nice guy. Got nothing against him. Fly him over to England, fly him over to Asia, fly him to anywhere in Europe, Georges St-Pierre gets mobbed, nobody knows who the hell Wayne Gretzky is.”
The other factors going against the CMA’s concern is that a 2006 Johns Hopkins University study reported MMA knockout rates were almost half as low as boxing, nearly three-quarters of MMA injuries were minor, being either facial cuts, hand injuries or nose injuries. And newly minted Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is one of the MPs who supports the bill.
For good or ill, my money’s on our country’s love of punching will knock out the CMA’s well-intentioned concerns.