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15th Apr 2016

IMMAF releases call to action requesting governmental regulation of mixed martial arts events

Darragh Murphy

Proper regulation is an important next step for mixed martial arts in countries that don’t currently regulate the sport.

One such country is Ireland, whose attitude towards MMA has never been a more pervasive subject of discussion following the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho following a bout at a Dublin event last weekend.

Carvalho passed away on Monday night, two days after being defeated by SBG welterweight Charlie Ward at Total Extreme Fighting, and the lack of an official regulatory body for professional MMA in Ireland has many concerned for the future of the sport.


The past few days have been dark ones in the Irish MMA community and, on Friday, the International MMA Federation released a statement calling for governments the world over to follow the example of the U.S.A. and Sweden by having mixed martial arts legally regulated.

“In the wake of this tragic and isolated event, IMMAF urges governments to support national MMA organisations, such as the Irish Amateur Pankration Association, and make a sincere commitment to putting structures in place that create a consistent and safe environment for all. IMMAF calls for MMA competitions to be regulated by law as they are in countries such as the United States and in Sweden, so that best practice can be enforced.”

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Fatalities in MMA are rare but Carvalho’s passing away has left many worried about the potential for something similar to happen in scenarios where official regulation is not in place as medical standards in unregulated regions are left to promoters to dictate.

The statement continues: “We call for formal recognition, regulation and grassroots support at national and international levels, not only to harness the positive potential of the sport but to vitally mitigate risk for its participants. Joao’s tragic passing presents a call to action.”

The statement concludes with a reference to the numerous inaccuracies reported by members of the media who have published articles crying out for MMA to be banned for various reasons that are based on antiquated beliefs that the sport is lawless and akin to the no holds barred days of the early 1990s.

“It is accepted, by MMA competitors,  organisations , fans and practitioners alike, that some people remain uneducated about the sport and carry outdated views and inaccurate preconceptions. However, this should not impact the understanding of a need to regulate the sport.”