Cage Fighting

Posted on April 10, 2011


Cage Fighting

should be banned as called for by the BMA




Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport in the world. The Ultimate Fighter Championship (UFC) is MMA’s most prominent organisation, with many of the sport’s best athletes under contract. Disciples of Karate, Brazilian Jujitsu, Wrestling, Sambo, Muy Thai and many others compete, but as the sport has evolved fighters have had to become adept in more than one style, consequently named, mixed martial arts.

MMA’s emergence in America in 1993 caused controversy with its no holds barred fighting style. Senator John McCaine saw the new contact sport as being “Human Cockfighting and un-American”. Originally the Ultimate Fighting Championship had no rounds, very limited rules, gloves were optional and a fight would only stop when one competitor was either rendered unconscious or submitted. Kicking and kneeing a downed opponent, elbowing and choking were all allowed. McCaine sent appeals to all the other states to ban the brutal sport, whilst the UFC sought to have stricter rules and regulations.

Dana White persuaded his two wealthy friends to buy the UFC for $2 million in 2001. Together they completely revamped the organisation-introducing stricter rules, padded gloves, weight classes and multiple ways to win.  Nine years on the UFC is valued at approximately $1 billion.

The British Medical Assoication’s (2007) response to this multimillion pound organization is shown on their website; ‘As with boxing the BMA opposes mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting and calls for a complete ban on this type of contact sport.’


Argument For:


Many parents are concerned about the rise of violence in the media and the effects it may be having on their child’s behaviour. A psychologist, Bandura (1961) responded to these concerns in his Bobo Doll Experiment. A group of children were shown violent and non-violent videos featuring adults and Bobo dolls. The children were then placed in isolation, each with a similar doll. It was shown that those exposed to the violent videos, especially the one in which the adult was rewarded for his aggression, were more aggressive towards their own doll. This study perhaps mirrors the effects UFC has on young people. Not only do they watch a sport in which two adult men fight each other, but who then are rewarded with the praise of winning and the crowd applauding. Therefore, mimicking this behaviour is likely.

According to Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences, it only takes ‘a single properly located strike to the head to cause tearing to the bridging veins that connect the brain with the sinuses that carry blood away from the brain’. This causes a subdural haematoma – the most common cause of death in contact sports.  A study of Judo-Choking techniques effects on brain functioning showed there to be permanent Central Nervous System changes due to the practising of Judo and choking. Other injuries according to EJMAS associated with Martial Arts, Boxing, Judo and similar sports are ‘broken bones, tears of knees, shoulder and ankle sprains and associated infections’.

With all these injuries in mind there is an ethical-economic issue raised; is it right to spend the money and resources in healthcare on fighters who have sustained injuries instead of focusing on more needy places for care? UFC fighters undergo a medical screening before every fight and CT and MRI scans are used. If the sport was banned perhaps those on the waiting list for cancer screening would be seen sooner. All the injuries of an individual that are acquired from this sport are completely unnecessary and avoidable. The sport is not only dangerous but also costly to healthcare.

It could be argued that in an ideal society we would be at the stage of development where we are completely dependent on intellect and morality for our livelihood. Even in our current society we no longer need to steal and kill to survive. We should use our brainpower to earn and social skills to win friends and partners. Attributes that are evolutionary advantages have been replaced from physical to social and intellectual. Most importantly in a perfect society there would be altruism.  Barbaric sports like MMA, where animal instincts are glorified and moral behaviour is ignored, slows our social development down.


Arguments Against


Lorenz (1966), in his book On Aggression, theorises that humans possess aggressive instincts. Rather than overlooking this, he proposes ‘a safe environment for controlled discharge of aggression in a positive society context rather than let it be expelled in negative ways.’ This applies to fighters in MMA who have come from a lower class background from all over the world. They can go to these MMA gyms to practise the sport and expel their aggressive urges. Therefore, these gyms act as a safe house for anger discharge and instead of the street.


Not only does MMA provide a controlled environment for anger, it also teaches people to focus their mind on discipline.  UFC fighters are role models for young men who are being intimidated and oppressed by others. They do not encourage fighting in public or against others who are untrained.  Instead the fighters show them that by working hard, being physically at your best, spiritually focussed and mentally strong you can overcome even the biggest, fiercest fighters. In the Fight Night show the training programmes of both fighters are normally shown.  This tells the audience that these fighters work exceptionally hard every day to prepare. They are not aggressive people. Lyto Machida, current Light Heavy Weight Champion, compares MMA to chess when discussing the level of technique involved.

Many different countries’ cultures are involved in this sport because of the range of fighting styles and it is popular worldwide. Each fighter and spectator gets to explore other traditions and nationalities and perhaps encourages the acceptance and respect of other nationalities. Racism is often due to ignorance and UFC gives these spectators and fighters a better education and interest in other cultures, doing its bit to cut down on prejudice.

Other sports such as Boxing and Rugby are more dangerous than MMA. Boxers receive constant blows to the head whilst fighting due to their large padded gloves, whereas in MMA there is only a limited amount of padding around the hands and therefore less punches are given to the head due to risk of breaking knuckles. There are far more ways to win a fight in MMA. According to the BMA, there have been a total of 140 deaths in boxing since 1990 and only one MMA death in 1993. Rugby deaths are also much higher. MMA is a relatively new sport and so the amount of evidence available is minimal.



MMA/Cage fighting on first appearance seems brutal and inhumane. However, after research into the sport it is very clear that these fighters are at the very pinnacle of the human fitness; they are athletes in every sense of the word. Watching their training videos are very motivational and the principles of the sport do excite me.

I do think that this sport is safer than boxing and that MMA could absorb boxing completely. However, Boxing and MMA are both sports where to win the player has to perform an anti-social act. These sports indoctrinate the belief that having an aggressive and competitive outlook on life is the only way to achieve your goals. I believe that altruism is something that needs more credit in the media and these sports endorse the opposite. Therefore, I would support the banning of MMA/Cage fighting, as ultimately it would remove one more thing that supports violence and harm to others.









BMA(2007) Boxing (and other contact sports) (Accessed 1 May 2010)

BMA(2007) Boxing ring tragedies  Available at : (Accessed 3 May 2010)

CBS News (2007) Dana White: (Accessed 1 May 2010)

Derrick Gomez (2010) All Images. Available at: (Accessed: 3 May 2010).

Lorenz, K. (1966). On aggression. New York, NY: Harcout, Brace & World

Plotz, David (1999-11-07). “Fight Clubbed”.


Tatame (2010) Machida Striking Like Chess Available at:–Striking-is-like-chess (Accessed 1 May 2010)

UFC (2010) Learn the UFC Rules Available at

: (Accessed 3 May 2010)



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