Minister for Sport Shane Ross has pledged to tackle MMA, the fast-growing sport which is proving increasingly controversial in Ireland, particularly since the death of a competitor in Dublin last year.
In December, a post mortem examination revealed that Brazilian fighter Joao Carvalho died after developing an acute subdural haemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Mr Carvalho died at Beaumont Hospital on April 11 last after he was knocked out in the third round of a Total Extreme Fighting contest at the National Boxing Stadium.
Minster Ross has told the Irish Daily Mail he's 'disturbed' by Mixed Martial Arts which sees competitors kicked and punched in the head. He declined to say whether he considered it to be a sport.
“This is something that we have under review,” he told the Mail. “It should be, at the very least, strictly regulated. I find some of the scenes in it quite disturbing.
“I think the rules should ensure that there is an absolute absence of brutality or savagery or anything like it. We are reviewing this, to find the best way of regulating it to ensure it is as safe as any other sport.”
His comments follow calls by health experts to ban the sport, whose most high-profile athlete is Dubliner Conor McGregor.
Dr Barry O’Driscoll, a former IRB medical advisor and cousin of rugby great Brian O’Driscoll, has previously described MMA as a ‘barbaric, money-making spectacle’ and called for it to be banned.
Following Carvalho’s fight the owner of Eventmed, the company who oversaw medical treatment at the fight night, said the correct post-fight medical protocol was observed.
“The doctors checked him between each round and each time he gave a full response to them,” Katarzyna Michlic told SevereMMA.com.
“He responded to each question and all of his answers were perfect. When the referee stopped the fight in the third round, our team of doctors and medics looked after him as he was bleeding quite heavily from his nose.
“He was asked if he felt any pain or was suffering with any headaches directly after the fight, and he said he had no pain or headaches, but he did feel quite tired.”
Following his death, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation called on the Irish authorities to formally recognise the sport.
They said MMA competitions here should be regulated by law, like they are in the US and Sweden.