Australia weighs-in on the banning of the cage in Western Australia

by • January 18, 2013 • News, Other, UFCComments (0)

Anger.

That was the first thing I experienced when I saw that the cage was being banned in Western Australia. As a resident of Victoria, the only other state to forbid caged combat sports I have tried to do my little part to educate the masses on the safety benefits of using a cage.

It took me a moment to compose myself and to really put my mind to it and to be honest, while I don’t agree with it I can understand it. We are dealing with politicians who have a passing understanding of this sport that involves fighting inside a cage, that sounds barbaric and something that should be in a snuff film rather than televised in prime time on a major network.

While the cage has served as a major benefit to the Ultimate Fighting Championship and mixed martial arts in general it has also held it back. You cannot deny that the violent image of a no-holds-barred fight inside an eight-sided cage was a major attraction in the early-nineties but because of the marketing of the blood sport it has probably done as much bad as it has done good, maybe even more.

It’s a real argument that deserves being debated so I put the task out there to my Australian counterparts to lay down their opinions on the issue. Media and fighters alike answered the call of duty as we got a bunch of interesting viewpoints from us that closely observe from the cage-side and those that go to war on the inside.

I was surprised to learn that Western Australia is looking to ban the use of the cage from March this year. I am dumb-founded by this decision. Obviously they have no issue with the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as it will continue in it’s current for but in the confines of a ring. What it tells me is that the Government has no interest in fighter safety but is rather more interested in outlandish policy in attempt to “appear” to be doing something.

I would be interested to know the reasoning behind this decision. MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the World and the rules across the planet that this sport is done in a Cage. The Cage is there for safety. Yet the WA Government is saying, safety isn’t an issue because we don’t want you (the fighter) to compete in the safest arena possible. I believe that they may be leaving themselves open to litigation if anyone is injured due to the use of a ring (falling, getting thrown or knocked out of a ring). I have seen this happen numerous times in the ring. Something that doesn’t happen in a cage. If a fighter gets injured a promoter can quite easily say that it’s not my call, the government insists that I use a ring and not the safest option, the cage, they are responsible.

What is the WA government thinking? I hope they change their mind, for the safety of the MMA competitors in WA. I’m not even thinking of the loss of revenue they are missing out on because the UFC won’t go to a state that doesn’t allow the cage. As a Sydneyider their decision just means more shows for me over here, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.
- Elvis Sinosic, retired Australian mixed martial artist and former UFC light-heavyweight title-challenger

Getting the cage ban uplifted in WA is simply a matter of education. People tend to take hard line stances on things if they don’t understand them. I doubt very much that the rule makers have bothered to read any documentation around the safety of fighters improving when there is a cage in place as opposed to a ring.  With time, understanding and a (quickly) changing public perception of MMA, we should see the ban overturned. I predict that MMA will take place in a cage, in every Australian state and territory within the decade.
- Adam Ireland, contributing writer at NineMSN.com.au

“The use of the cage in Western Australian MMA shows will be prohibited as of March 2013.”

I can honestly say when I read this I was sad, really SAD.

I have fought internationally in combat sports on mats for ADCC, BJJ, Sambo, in the ring MMA and in the cage MMA and of all three I can tell you I feel safest in the cage and that even includes the sport where people are not trying to hit me in the face.

I have seen people be run/ thrown off the mat into spectators,barricades and officials tables or simply the floor around the mat, be it wood or concrete. Often resulting in injury I have seen people fall from the ring and have to suffer a drop to the floor below usually a 1m or so down. I personally have never seen someone ejected from the cage. I’m not saying it cannot happen. I know there is a YouTube video of fighter falling out a caged door that wasn’t locked, but there are also videos of ring ropes collapsing because of incorrect setup.

The banning of the cage just makes the sport of MMA a whole lot less safe. The cage is there to protect and contain the fighters. A ring while it is fine for Boxing and kickboxing, most of the times, as these fighters also sometimes fall out as well, it is not adequate for MMA.

MMA works at all levels, on the ground, standing and flying through the air (for throws and takedowns). The use of a ring, especially a boxing ring or Kickboxing ring leaves fighters at a high risk of falling out, either by going under over or thru the ropes and suffering injury from the fall to the ground the results. I say Boxing/Kickboxing ring because an MMA ring is slightly different it has an addition fifth rope just above the ground level, to help contain fighter working on the ground, while a boxing/Kickboxing ring only has 4 with the lowest being at mid shin height.

My first 5 pro MMA fights where in a Boxing ring and the fear of falling or being thrown out of the ring was very close to the top of my thoughts. My 6&7th fights where in the cage and I felt so much safer could concentrate on the job at hand and what I needed to do because know from experience at training that I cannot fall out. My most recent fight was in an MMA ring, there was a 5th with I was very happy about, but honestly I still would have preferred the cage for safety.

I know at one point I was thinking more about not falling out that advancing and getting out of a bad position so really there is a safety compromise even in the safest ring.

Why the WA government did decide it was safer for MMA to a ring rather than a cage? I don’t know, I haven’t read much more than the headlines. But to me it seems it’s like saying all motor cycle riders now have to wear push bike helmets because they don’t look as intimidating to people.

True that may be the case but it isn’t the safest option. True the image of a “Cage” may have been used initially as a marketing gimmick, the whole” two men enter one man leaves “locked in a cage to fight it out to the” death” but the sport has evolved. It’s not No Holds Barred fighting anymore, and hasn’t been for a very long time. MMA has grown up, it’s a combat sport and if no one else noticed there is a third person in the cage, the ref to make sure rules are followed a fighters remain safe.

On the most part we involved in the sport realise that the cage, with its padded uprights, plastic coated chain link and matted floor is one of the safest places to be and let us hope the WA government works that out as well sooner rather than later.
- Fiona Muxlow, Australian female mixed martial artist

With regards to the cage ban in WA, I consider it a poorly informed decision that may be based more on image than safety. One of the last MMA events in a ring of 2012, Australian Fighting Championships 4, is an indicator of how dangerous the ring can be to the athletes and officials. Two competitors and the referee fell outside the ropes. This is because ropes are not a stable enough barrier to prevent people conducting wrestling, grappling and judo throws from falling. Due to the elevation of the ring a fall can be quite dangerous. This is not a new issue in fight sports. Legendary USA heavyweight boxer Jack Dempsey fell on to the press gallery, who gave him a leg up to get back into the fight, in the 1920s.

If the WA government wanted to take a considered approach, with members from the MMA community represented on the deciding board, or at least a willingness to take a submission from the MMA community then there may be a more reasonable approach aimed at protecting athletes. The ban reversal in SA and soon Vic has demonstrated the results of decisions based and a fair and impartial review process. Having decision boards and advisors from a primarily boxing background making decisions for a separate sport is neither fair nor impartial. Do Trap (Clay) Shooters advise on Archery for the Australian Olympic Council? Why are Boxing and MMA any different? Leave the ring for Boxing and the Cage for MMA.

The WA decision to ban the cage may be contributed to by the term ‘cage’ which evokes a barbaric idea in the minds of the uninformed. Terms such as octagon, hexagon can alleviate this, but as some of these are trademarked, it seems the term ‘cage’ is here to stay. If this is the case, the MMA community has to make sure we inform as many people as we can in order to dispel the idea that a cage fight is an unskilled brawl with no rules. We ran a series of articles on our site last year regarding Victoria’s ban, and they will be available from again from 20th January for those that want to learn more.

It is sad to see a great state, such as WA, regress in terms of progress. The fact that the cage was allowed and there was NO overwhelming public outcry or calls for its removal makes this decision seem all the more confusing.
- Mick Cook, writer and photographer at NoGloves.com

‘We are already fighting one state on this subject and now we have another trying to go backwards. These people really need to be educated on the sport and once we do get the ban overturned in WA hopefully we can get the ban lifted in Victoria as well but it will need everyone to get behind it. Also they should think about the money it will bring in if the UFC visits, it will be a lose/lose situation for them if they don’t devide to lift the ban.’
- Josh Mercer, contributing writer at H-4Entertainment.com

I think its outrageous that the WA government are looking to ban cage fighting after it has allowed it for so long. Where did this decision come from?, there has been no negative incidents and I don’t see the community protesting against it. Did the politicians learn from Victoria and realize that maybe they can make some money by banning the sport then later accept bribes to legalize it. I call shenanigans and the australian MMA community will not take this one lying down!
- Michael Spence, lead writer at MMAOceania.com
As a fighter that has fought in both cage and ring for MMA I can say that the decision to ban the cage in W.A has been a very poor one to say the least. As a fighter I feel a thousand times safer in the cage, I know that I am not going to get taken out of the cage or fall though the fencing in place.
Fighting in the ring and even training in the ring I have been put in some scary situations where both myself and my opponent have fallen though the ropes. Also from a spectators point of view sometimes the fight has to be stopped and the fighters moved into the centre of the ring during the fight and this can also change the fight and put someone at a disadvantage. All round there are more negatives than positives in this decision that has been made.
- Richard Kemp-Hay, Australian MMA and Muay-Thai fighter
The truth is, I have little to say about this that hasn’t already been said, or is already known. In my home state of Victoria, we have been going through this for years. I have spoken personally to two different sports ministers, and they both basically inferred that they didn’t care whether it was smart or not to have a cage, and that they weren’t even interested in even breaching the subject and aligning the discussion to their name.
Now WA is facing the same problem. Any fight doctor will tell you the truth. Any idiot can see that, you don’t need to be a doctor. There is no safer fight arena than a cage. If you want to ban MMA sport in your state, I can understand that. I don’t agree, and again like many sport doctors, I believe that contact sports such as the various codes of football  are far more dangerous a threat to participants. Not to mention boxing. However, if you truly believe that MMA is not in the interest of your community, I can actually respect a decision to not allow it.
But banning only ‘the cage’ is just complete ignorance. There’s nothing else to say about. There is zero logic involved in this decision outside that of shallow aesthetic values. I also hope other martial arts and combat clubs did not support this decision, because I know there is some strong opposition toward the growing MMA and UFC trend, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
- Jarrah Loh, editor of Inside MMA magazine & author of Ultimate & the Caged Chronicles series
The way I see it is the cage is there to protect the fighters and removing it isn’t fair to the fighters. The government just don’t understand this sport yet so it’s going to take time before anything happens with it and until they get educated on this sport.
- Dave Mac, Australian  ring announcer and co-host of This Week in MMA radio
I think the decision that the Western Australia government is making is an ignorant one and very unsafe! Having fought inside both a ring and a cage, I can safely say that I feel a hell of a lot safer inside a cage when it comes to the grappling aspect of MMA and its a shame that W.A is going to start forcing promoters into holding bouts in an unsafe environment. At the very least I hope that the government is prepared to help out with any legal and medical costs in the likely event that somebody falls between the ropes in the future!
- Bec  Hyatt, Australian female mixed martial artist

So MMA in a cage is now banned in Western Australia. Well lets ban the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. More people die and are injured every year by this event then MMA in a cage. Open your eyes to this barbaric race held every year where people die and get badly injured in the name of sport!
- Kyle Noke, Australian mixed martial artist and current UFC welterweight

My thought is that its a stupid rule. What difference does it make having a cage suppose to a ring. MMA is still going to go on whether its in a cage or not. Fighting MMA in a ring is a lot more dangerous suppose to fighting in a cage, you cant get thrown out of a cage on to judges haha. Who ever is making this rule should grasp a little bit more knowledge about the sport and have a second thought.
- Patrick Iodice, Australian mixed martial artist and TUF: The Smashes cast member

I assume everyone will be sending through similar comments that it is obvious to those involved in the sport how much safer a cage is than the ring. We have seen over and over in Muay Thai and boxing fights people ending up tangled in the ropes or on the judges desks! A cage eliminates all dangers as far as falling out goes. Working on the ground and having to stop and restart in the same position when the ref has to move you away from the edge of the ring – impedes the fighters and is frustrating for both viewers and fighters.

It’s a huge step backwards for the sport.
- Shauna Carew, Australian mixed martial artist 

Its disappointing to hear mate. As Australia slowly but surely progresses the sport of MMA in a positive fashion with the formation of Governing bodies etc. we have W.A politicians taking a backward step. It would seem that W.A is still a few years behind the Eastern States as far as understanding of the sport. Many politicians aren’t concerned about promoting the facts of the sport but are only concerned with how its perceived by the uneducated public. W.A will get there in the end like the rest of the country but unfortunately it makes it difficult for promoters in W.A to keep there Events alive. Events such as Superfight and Bragging Rights were putting on great events too.
- Tony Green, owner of Integrated MMA and fight manager

It’s not good at all, the cage is safer
- Hector Lombard, Cuban-Australian mixed martial artist and current UFC middleweight

The first thing I thought of after I heard that Mixed Marital Arts will no longer be allowed to be contested in a cage in Western Australia was ‘what am I going to have for lunch today?’. Then I thought ‘wow don’t these fat politicians who know nothing about the sport have anything better to do after they have finished blowing farm animals and being ugly’.

I’m pretty sure there are more pressing issues at hand than banning people from playing a sport. So I believe the sport will be banned in the cage but will still be legal to be contested in a ring? This to me makes no sense to me as the sport is still legal as long as it takes place in a ring. I love MMA in both a cage and a ring and while the cage seems to be taking over I hope that some promotions still choose to use a ring, but they should not be forced to.

MMA is a very different sport depending on whether it takes place in a cage or ring and both require different skills, however it is definitely not any more dangerous in a cage, if anything the ring could be more dangerous. They may as well just ban football from being played with a football, or ban people from eating cheesecake and pork chops, because cheesecake and pork chops kill more people than MMA does.

I guarantee MMA fighters are much healthier than the people who are trying to stop them from doing their sport. So in conclusion my opinion is that it is absolutely disgusting that citizens are forced to pay these inbred monkeys so they can buy expensive suits and walk around oozing of douchebaggery while going out of their way to affect other peoples lives when it has no effect on them. So you politician people keep sticking your noses where it doesn’t belong and you’re gonna get BIT you hear? That’s your first and final warning. You guys try and lay off the caviar a bit and at least try to lower the general douchebaggery levels please.
- Ben Wall, Australian mixed martial artist and TUF:  The Smashes cast member

Superfight is pretty much the only promotion in W.A and they use a ring so to be honest i think it makes no difference to fighters and promoters in W.A
- Robert Lisita, Australian mixed martial artist

I have no idea Wat is going on behind the scenes in W.A re the banning of the cage?? W.A have some of the cream of OZ MMA in their backyard so i would like to know what the WA guys are hearing as to WHY?? Good luck boys..It is a massive backward step-like we turned back the clock 10 years!
Jai Bradney, Australian mixed martial artist

Well…first of all, I’d like ask people, and by people I mean the government, why is it called cage fighting…? If boxing was put in a cage, it would still be called cage fight as its happening in a cage. Mixed martial art is mainly an art which has been developed along the years by masters from all over the world. Involving a cage is just about safety measures.

If the politician would please take the time and educate themselves on the sport, on how the sport has evolved along the years, it would make them think twice about the matter.I get it a lot, that when i say am a cage fighter to people, their first thought is that am brutal, a thug, a gang member or delusional, which in reality, we’re all a big family who respects each other, takes pride in what we do and we don’t go running the streets looking for fights and picking on people.

As i said too, the article in the newspaper say ” it has no place in a civilised society”…which I really do not know what they really meant by this when everyday i see the crime reports online and its shocking…Rape, murder, kidnapping, break ins etc just to name a few… why pick on us?

the sport is being sanctioned by the sports and combat commission and we have doctors, and great referees who has been in the sport for so long that they know what they doing. On behalf of most MMA fighters and supporters id like to conclude by saying we love what we do, it is for the love of the sport that we do that and being a martial artist is an extraordinary asset to have and you live by 2 codes…respect and discipline.
- Stephen Owen, Australian mixed martial artist

I feel by banning the cage it takes our WA MMA fighters backwards. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. If organisations like the UFC have a show in Perth it would attract lots of tourism and generate funds for the state.

When it comes to the safety of the competitors a cage is the way to go, if MMA bouts are held in a ring this is room for many injuries such as falling out through the ropes and breaking your neck etc. as in MMA there are take downs and judo throws.

The cage is definitely a safer option for MMA than a ring. If only our politicians could please take the time to learn, understand the sport and its rules. This is a fantastic sport with great qualities.
- Xavier Lucas, Australian mixed martial artist and TUF: The Smashes cast member

When Victoria and South Australia is learning that a CAGE is much safer for a MMA fight environment, WA Government is going backwards and banning it. Must be a huge IGNORANCE of the sport or some sort of DIRTY business behind the scenes to be made such a TERRIBLE decision.
I just wonder myself what is gonna happen with the already poor MMA fighters and promoters that has Family to support over there.
- Gustavo Falciroli, Australian mixed martial artist
With the impending ban of MMA in a cage there’s two main issues involved that I don’t believe the WA government has adequately considered. Firstly (and I know I’m not alone in saying this) is the issue of fighter safety. As recently as December during AFC 4 in Victoria we saw an instance where fighters spilled over and through the ropes and onto the floor below, and this was hardly the first or only time it’s happened. This simply cannot happen in a cage, and for the WA government to regress on this issue at a time when most territories are waking up to the benefits of the cage is madness.

The second issue for me is purely economic. It is a fact that the UFC has a strong desire to hold an event in Melbourne and the only thing stopping them has been the state ban on MMA in a cage. It is not unreasonable to extrapolate and predict that they could someday cast their gaze over to Perth. To willingly opt out of the local economic benefits to hotels, restaurants, tourism operators and everything else that follows a visit from “the big show” is once again, madness, and incredibly shortsighted. It’s not enough to say “there’s only one organisation promoting shows in a cage so who cares”… think of the future.
- Nathan Geilis, co-host & producer of This Week in MMA Radio

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