The organization that represents MDs in british columbia is urging its counterparts from across the country to call on the federal government to ban mixed martial arts — a cage-fighting phenomenon that is increasingly being hosted in Canadian cities.
Last month, the B.C. Medical Association held a caucus meeting and passed a resolution stating it wants the full-contact sport banned in Canada.
Now, the body that acts as the voice of doctors in B.C. is planning to bring that resolution to the Canadian Medical Association's annual general meeting at Niagara Falls, Ont., from Aug. 23-25.
If the national group agrees to adopt the resolution, it will lobby the federal government to bring an end to MMA contests in the country.
Dr. Ian Gillespie, president of the B.C. organization, said the resolution was passed because doctors are concerned about the potential for serious injury, including brain damage.
"We know there are a number of serious injuries that can occur, including broken limbs, lacerations and brain damage," said Gillespie.
"Recently, an MMA fighter making his professional debut in South Carolina died from a brain hemorrhage after receiving repeated blows to his head, and during an event in Vancouver, a number of MMA fighters received emergency care at Vancouver General Hospital for lacerations, fractured limbs and severe facial bruising."
Proponents of MMA have argued the sport is no more dangerous than other contact sports, such as boxing.
"A lot of people are convinced that our sport is actually more violent and that there are more traumatic head injuries than in sports like boxing or football," said Tom Wright, director of operations at the Canadian arm of Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world's No. 1 MMA organization.
He cited a Johns Hopkins University study in 2006 that found that, since the first UFC match in 1993, the overall rate of injury in MMA has become similar to that of other combat sports, including boxing.
The study said MMA knockout rates are lower than in boxing, which suggests a reduced rate of traumatic brain injury in MMA compared to other combat sports.
However, Gillespie said the B.C. group takes the position that MMA fights are more dangerous than boxing because of fewer safety rules.
"It's our understanding what distinguishes mixed martial arts fighting from boxing, for instance, is the use of various techniques to disable the opponent that aren't limited to punching and the fewer of what might be called safety rules. For example, MMA allows a fighter to attack an opponent while down and we believe those things increase the risk of serious injury," said Gillespie.
Wright said UFC would be interested in talking with the B.C. doctors about their resolution "to provide our perspective, to provide our data, to provide our facts so that individuals are making informed decisions."
He added that South Carolina does not require the same medical testing that UFC does, such as an MRI test.
He said his organization has brought in more safety regulations for MMA, such as weight classes and medical staff, adding that the sport needs to be regulated to ensure the highest level of safety for athletes.
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