MMA is an emerging sport, even if it’s a far cry from the obscure, underground kind of cage fighting it was only ten years ago. Even if many people who have no idea what MMA means, know of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
Just think about the legends of some popular sports. NBA, Soccer, Baseball and such. Some of them are long gone, having died of natural causes at an old age.
Contrary to these, the majority of MMA legends are able to raise new families, should they choose to do so.
So why – you might ask – should we fix a sport that is just breaking out of its shell? And is it even broken, to begin with?
The answers to these questions are “So it grows to be a healthy and responsible adult.” And “Not really, it just needs some guidance like any adolescent.” Respectively.
Having said that, there is quite a bit of work to do, if we (MMA fans, present and future) want to enjoy it for years to come.
In this short series of posts, I’d like to offer my perspective on what could be done to push the sport in the right direction.
First and foremost – I hope you’d agree – is the fighter’s health and safety.
A lot is done already, whether via the rules of the fight or through substance control imposed on fighters, in order to make this sport as safe as can be. The fighters assume certain risks, to be sure, but it is fairly evident that it is as safe as say, Hockey or American football (if not more in some ways).
What I’m offering is adding a couple of safe guards.
The first thing I suggest is the addition of 3 more weight classes to the men and one more for women. There are big gaps between the middle weight tiers, namely between welterweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight.
Adding 177 lb, 195 lb and 215 lb classes will achieve two goals (also 145 lb for the ladies).
1. Allow people of borderline “walking weight” to make weight easily and without taxing their bodies more than really necessary for a sport. And mind you, this is a sport after all. Not life and death.
2. Allow those small middle weights, large light-heavyweights etc. to find a home where they can be more competitive and not be at a constant disadvantage due to being too small for class A, but too heavy for the one under. Examples? Kelving Gastelum, Johny Hendricks, Charles Oliveira to name a few.
Another thing I think should be done is limit the allowed weight cut. Consult with nutritionists and other experts and come up with a certain “walking weight” that corresponds with the relevant minimum weight class. No one expects Roy Nelson to fight at Welterweight, right? How about Middleweight? What is too much weight cut? Let’s not find the answer out when a fighter suffers severe injury or god forbid more. Let’s make sure that no one even attempts to cut enough weight to risk more than is reasonable. You will hear me say that again and again – this is sport. People should not die for entertainment value or even for greatness (in whose eyes?).
I hope that makes sense, and if not, would absolutely love to hear what your thoughts are regarding fighter’s safety.
Are there more things that could (should) be done to protect the people we love to watch?