NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — The risk mixed martial arts fighters might suffer life-changing brain injuries outweighs the entertainment and economic benefits of allowing the sport, says the professional association representing Canada’s doctors.
Canadian Medical Association (CMA) members voted Wednesday in favour of a motion that calls on the federal and provincial governments to ban the sport.
“It enables the Canadian Medical Association to advocate for this ban and discuss it with the federal government or any other government,” said Dr. Ian Gillespie, president of the British Columbia Medical Association.
Doctors are concerned about brain injuries that occur when fighters suffer what Gillespie said are “frequent concussions” in the ring.
Research suggests 28% of mixed martial arts fights end with a knockout or technical knockout while another 16% end when fighters put their opponents in choke holds.
The B.C. association called for a ban on the sport earlier this year. Two of its members brought the issue to the floor of the CMA’s general council meeting, being held at a Niagara Falls, Ont., hotel this week.
Gillespie compared the anti-MMA motion to one the CMA took in 2001 against boxing.
Despite the doctors’ concerns, MMA’s popularity with fans and acceptance among Canadians appears to be growing.
Two weeks ago, Ontario’s Liberal government said it would legalize mixed martial arts fights, setting the stage for the first professional event to be held in Toronto in March 2011.