Recently, the British organization Cage Warriors announced that they are instituting mandatory blood testing for their MMA events. Huh? The organization has run nearly 50 events since the early part of the decade, and this is positive news? That the minimal medical screening of athletes hasn’t been enforced until now is practically a criminal offense. No, it actually is criminally negligent.
When the UFC does a show in the UK, it goes without saying that they bring with them the strict standards of the commissions in the US. But that another group in England has been running shows for nearly a decade without protecting the athletes at the bare minimum is beyond the pale. And the fact that they are trying to make publicity like it is a good thing in 2011 to start this is simply shocking.
In 1996 and 1997 I was part of a small show running in Indiana, a state with no commission or regulation at the time. But it was the obligation of the fighter to come with blood tests. My speech to each guy was the same – ‘I Don’t think you have AIDS, but your opponent might’. Getting to 100 percent compliance is tough, until the commissions are involved but it is certainly the responsibility of the organizations to enforce these rules. Bottom line is if you allow it, the fighters will show up and just fight.
So somebody better wake up in merry old England. Cage Warriors isn’t the only show, and someone needs to start making sure the minimum is done to protect the fighters on all events run under the flag of MMA as a sport. There are a lot of exams that are needed for safety before steroid testing, too. An MRI, CAT Scans, an eye test. These things insure safety. This is a sport that has gotten lucky. There have been at least two documented deaths related to MMA competition that I can think of off the top of my head, but the publicity has been low, and frankly the rate in boxing appears higher so people get mixed up.
My point is that this announcement has been too long in coming, but so be it, now Cage Warriors needs to follow thru. More importantly this needs to be a huge alert to the MMA scene in England, supposedly a first world country. What they are toying with is the risk that politicians will shut the sport down and make it illegal.