Mixed martial arts (MMA) has “no place” in Ireland unless it implements guidelines and rules planned by Sport Ireland.
CEO of Sport Ireland John Treacy said he was meeting with officials from the Department of Sport this week to examine bringing in guidelines for the sport.
The meetings come in the wake of the death of Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho following an event in Dublin last weekend. He died late on Monday night after being in a critical condition for 48 hours at Beaumont Hospital.
Mr Treacy said the sport should not be permitted in Ireland if it fails to follow any guidelines brought in by Sport Ireland.
“If we bring forth guidelines, codes of practice and they’re not followed, well I don’t think there’s any place for it in Ireland. It’s as simple as that,” he told RTÉ.
MMA in Ireland does not receive any government funding as it is not recognised by Sport Ireland. It is currently overseen by the Irish Amateur Pankration Association, which is recognised as the governing body for MMA in Ireland by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.
Mr Tracey said Sport Ireland had contacted those organising events here to advise them on becoming a recognised sport here.
“The situation with MMA is that there isn’t a national organisation in the country for it. It’s made up of promoters and individuals. We did sit down with them about two years ago and we said: ‘Look, you need to form a corporate body in some way if you want to be recognised as a sport’,” he said.
Mr Treacy said organisers and promoters of MMA needed to think “very carefully” before putting on any more events in Ireland.
“You look at events like last weekend. There is some history in terms of brain haemorrhages and what have you in the sport. I would think that any promoter putting on events in Ireland at the moment would want to be looking at it very, very carefully making sure they have the rules and regulations and the safety of the players and athletes as paramount,” he said.
Earlier this week, Sports Minister Michael Ring said he was “concerned about the growth” of MMA in Ireland for more than two years and said it needs to be regulated. He also said he wasn’t the “biggest fan” of the sport.
However, Mr Ring has previously expressed his hope that UFC star Conor McGregor would fight in front of 80,000 fans at Croke Park.
“He has been an inspiration and it is a sport that has really taken off here. If he wanted to defend his title in Ireland, I would like to see him in Croke Park or any other stadium that is available,” he told The Star.
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