The whole world has been affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has affected millions of lives, economies, and businesses around the globe. The sports atmosphere hasn't been immune to the overwhelming effects of the epidemic either, with practically all sports organizations having been affected to different extents.
The MMA world has also been forced to go through deep changes, with countless events being canceled or postponed to a later date, as has been the case for BRAVE Combat Federation, the fastest-growing MMA organization on the globe. The president of the Bahrain-based organization, Mohammed Shahid, has been extremely proactive in initiating an awareness campaign to help halt the spread of the virus and is adamant the sport should be paused until health authorities &and governments allow for normal activity to resume.
Other MMA companies have chosen to ignore the Coronavirus pandemic and have been putting the lives of thousands of people on the line to "keep the show running."
With the recent confirmation that UFC 249 will go ahead, Shahid has touched on a subject that is dear to BRAVE CF - the regulation of mixed martial arts as a sport.
"Everyone is losing something with this pandemic. In the sports world alone, we have footballers taking wage cuts, clubs going under, and organizations working to stay afloat. We have bodies like UEFA and IOC stepping up and postponing their huge, global events, and setting examples by doing so."
"It is our duty as representatives for the sport of MMA to move forward in a way that doesn’t put anyone at risk. We need to take a step back and we need to set an example. This is a collective issue, we can't show the rest of the world our sport doesn't care about this issue," says Shahid, who is frustrated at MMA being misrepresented as a sport, when it is too often in the entertainment business.
"Today we are being misrepresented as a sport because of decisions like this. We are the toughest sport? Yes. Do we have the toughest athletes? Yes, we do. But that's not the toughness we embody as a sport, to keep going, and to disobey rules and regulations. We need to have stronger regulations and we need to collaborate as a sport. Decisions must be made with the well-being of people in mind, and not based on money.
"Certain regulations must be put in place, by a professional regulation body, not from one man's agenda, which is always money-based".
Since its inception, BRAVE Combat Federation, which has held 34 shows around the world in 19 different countries, has worked alongside local, national, and international federations to develop the sport of mixed martial arts from grassroots to the professional level. It has partnered with the IMMAF and hosted the World Championships for the past three years in the Kingdom of Bahrain during BRAVE International Combat Week. Shahid believes this is the way forward for the sport.
"A new system is needed for mixed martial arts. We need to move past the event business and into the sports business. We should treat MMA as a sport, and MMA should be recognized as a sport. BRAVE CF, with the leadership and vision of His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has led the way in pursuing that change in the system.
"Money should not be a priority. If money is your priority, you're not going to grow and develop a sport. Everything else comes with it, including money itself when you are looking to grow the sport. And that's what we are doing at BRAVE CF."