SENATOR Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero wants the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) to monitor and strictly implement tight regulations on both amateur and professional mixed martial arts fights to ensure the safety of fighters.
Escudero noted that while the number of underground MMA fights have decreased as local promoters have gone mainstream, there are reports of an increasing number of amateur fights being held in gyms and other public sporting venues.
“Mixed martial arts are no joke. Even MMA practitioners will tell you that,” Escudero said. “It is brutal, even with the safety precautions being observed during fights. But we cannot say that all promoters could adhere to the safety requirements of the sport if they are not properly monitored and regulated.”
The PSC is the government agency in charge of funding and the promotion of amateur sports. The GAB, meanwhile, looks after the professional leagues, including the Philippine Basketball Association, the professional boxing matches and lately, the MMA fights that attract thousands of spectators nowadays.
“In many countries, MMA has become even more popular than the sport of boxing. There are very few names now that our youth would mention as their boxing idols, but ask them about their favorite MMA fighters and they can churn out a few, if not more names, some of whom have even fought here during events held in high-star hotels,” Escudero said.
“The problem, however, is that we do not have a national sport association which properly promote MMA, yet. Most amateur fights being held are not regulated and monitored. And the organizers of these fights could circumvent rules by claiming these are amateur matches and do not fall under the regulatory functions of the GAB. Let’s not wait for an accident to happen, or for an athlete to die before we take action to ensure the safety of MMA athletes,” Escudero said.
Escudero noted that erstwhile unbeaten Ronda Rousey has just been issued a six-month medical suspension by the UFC after a second-round knockout loss to Holly Holm in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title bout.
Also given a six-month suspension was strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk despite her victory over Valerie Letourneau.
The suspensions came as the UFC regulated itself in the absence of a commission which should have looked at the conduct of the fights.
Experts estimated Holm’s left foot kick to Rousey’s head that sent the former champ to her first loss as an MMA fighter is equivalent to about 50-lb force.
“These professionals could feel the impact of bodily punishments and the UFC could not take risk even more and implemented the suspensions,” Escudero said. “Iwasan natin na mangyari ang mga ganyan dito sa atin. Our MMA fighters could very well give the country more things to cheer about in the future. Let us preserve and protect them until their chance at international glory comes.”