The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) — the body seeking to have itself appointed as the governing body for mixed martial arts (MMA) here — has defended the measures it is implementing to make fights safer.

Less than five months after the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho in an MMA fight with Charlie Ward at Dublin’s National Stadium, documents have emerged which show the serious concerns the Irish Martial Arts Commission has about the way MMA fights are currently fought here. The commission is the body which has been asked to consider taking MMA under its control.

However, in a letter to the International Olympic Committee, the commission compares MMA to dogfighting and says it is about people being “physically damaged”.

“People talked about a ban driving MMA underground. There are some things that belong underground,” the commission wrote in a letter sent to the Olympic Committee in April and obtained by RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Dog fighting remains underground because it is fundamentally wrong — it is not a sport nor should it be encouraged to regulate itself into one just because some people enjoy a spectacle.

“MMA as it is currently being fought is not a sport.”

The commission claimed there are elements allowed in MMA which are intentionally dangerous and cannot be avoided no matter how many doctors are present.

“To remove these elements would impact significantly on the sell-ability of MMA,” it said. “It will not drop the elements necessary to bring it closer to being a sport because that is their core — that is what the consumers of MMA want to see — people not just beaten but people physically damaged.”

The commission said reports which described MMA as pornographic, sadistic, and voyeuristic in its core “were not excessive”.

“We have to be strong enough to say no, to draw a line and live with the criticism of the MMA fan core and vested business interests,” said the commission. “If MMA is not interested in changing the rules regarding elements such as “ground and pound” then a ban is the only option they are leaving open to those whom they are saying should regulate MMA.”

Yesterday afternoon, John Kavanagh, whose SBG Ireland facility has top MMA names including Conor McGregor among its fighters, pointed reporters to a post by the IMMAA, of which he has been president.

In the statement, IMMAA said it is working toward recognition as the governing body for MMA here.

“The IMMAA has been the driver of huge changes within the sport of MMA in Ireland,” it said. “In the past year we have altered the rules for amateur competitors, and sent a representative team of 13 athletes to the Amateur World Championships in Las Vegas. This team came home having topped the medal count, with six Irish athletes on the podium, including one gold.”

IMMAA said that, guided by medical professionals, it had voluntarily put in place medical standards at events “that exceed those in place for the vast majority of sporting events in Ireland”.

“We are committed to furthering that good work through official recognition, and to follow the process that Sport Ireland have laid out for us as the representative body for MMA in Ireland,” said IMMAA.

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