MMA ban bogus

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

That didn't take long, did it?

Dean Lewis, a mixed martial arts fighter from Fort McMurray, Alta., gets hurt in the ring, and it's time to ban the sport.

Hockey, I fear for your future.

The response yesterday by Winnipeg city councillor Grant Nordman, which included the usual cockfighting and dogfighting staples, was predictable, if not laughable. Talk about a worn-out cliche.

Local fight promoter John Vernaus brought MMA to Manitoba in 2000, so he wasn't surprised by Coun. Nordman's comments.

"I had a hard time getting it in in 2000," Vernaus said. "A lot of people don't like that violence.

"Just go to the North End on a Friday night and you'll see more violence, but there's a lot of bleeding hearts here."

If Coun. Nordman wants to look into banning fights at the Convention Centre, that's his right as a councillor and as a board member of the facility.

He can stop there, however. He doesn't need to go after a sport that is heavily regulated in this province to ensure the fighters are safe.

Friday night's scrap between Lewis and Winnipeg's Eric Perez was gory, no doubt. The pools of blood on the white canvas, not to mention the splatters on my work bag, were proof of that.

It got so bad in the third and final round that more than a few people in attendance (including yours truly) had trouble watching the action.

Should the bout have been halted after the second? Absolutely. Referee Adam Cheadle should have stopped it, Lewis' trainer Kyle Cardinal should have thrown in the towel, and Dr. Ed Pilat, who inspected the fighter after Round 2, probably should have erred on the side of caution.

That's easy for me to say, though. Lewis checked out fine physically after Round 2, according to Dr. Pilat, and he begged Cardinal to let him keep going. As for Cheadle, why is he going to stop a fight in which Lewis was giving as good as he was receiving?

Vernaus, who also trains boxers, suggested it's up to the fighter's corner to stop the fight.

"If my guy's taking a beating and it isn't his night, it's my duty to go in there and stop it, whether he hates me or not," Vernaus said.

The Manitoba Boxing Commission will review this incident thoroughly, just as it always does when a fighter is injured. It will make changes if they are deemed necessary.

The MBC is about as much fun as a root canal when it comes to doing its job. They are deadly serious about ensuring a safe night at the fights. The athletes are checked out extensively before the card. Paramedics and an ambulance are always on scene should anything go wrong, just like they are at Bomber games.

It went wrong on Friday night, and the paramedics were there immediately. So were three or four doctors. Lewis was in good hands, and he should live to tell about it.

What more do grandstanding politicians want?

If anything, after seven years of covering boxing and MMA fights, it seems referees in this town stop fights too soon. This was one rare instance where they let it go too long, and you can bet it won't happen again.

In case you're wondering, at least one more hockey player than mixed martial artist has died in Canada this winter. Don Sanderson's death was an unfortunate incident, and so was this.

It's not time to ban hockey, and it's not time to ban mixed martial arts.


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