Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the world, beginning in America and spreading to Europe, Africa, Australia and China.
People who compete are hard training – often for six to ten hours a week.
Their training encompasses many fighting arts such boxing, Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu as well as extensive cardio based conditioning.
Yet when people talk about the sport, they focus on the fact that the bouts are contended inside a cage. This is where the vulgar term “Cage Fighting” comes from.
The first thing that comes to mind when someone says “cage Fighting” is bare knuckle bloodbaths where the point is to be the last man standing. This far from the truth. Mixed Martial Arts has rules that don’t allow eye gouging, head-butts, and strikes to groin. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitors are the most respectful and some of the best sportsman you will find in any sport.
Mixed Martial Arts is strict when it comes to fighter’s safety. Before every event the fighters are checked by doctors and medics. They sit at cage side during the event. If a fighter is cut or receives an accidental eye poke the doctor can enter the cage and decide if it is in the fighter’s safety to end the fight.
It is the referee’s job to put fighters’ safety first, which often causes early finishes to matches.
The cage is for safety purposes. I have trained in martial arts and know the feeling you get when you are thrown only to land two feet away from a mat. If the fights take part in a ring, which is also common but not often, the fighters risk falling between the ropes and hitting the floor or judging tables.
I have first hand experience of this while taking photographs at an event in Stirling. Two fighters got close to the ropes and began to grapple for position, one went for a leg-lifting technique and the other one tried to stop him. Both fighters came crashing to floor only inches from where I was standing.
They slowly got back up, helping each other in a show of good sportsmanship.
It was clear that they both had the fall from the ring in their minds.
In a cage the fight can continue when they are pushed against the side preventing the fighters from getting injured.
Nobody fights a cage, they fight each other as highly-trained martial artists.
The term cage fighting should be replaced with the abbreviation MMA.
Gordon Brown is currently unemployed. He lives in Falkirk.