Well it has taken me longer than I thought to think of another MMA Musing that would be interesting enough to spark some debate. First off, the last MMA Musing was regarding Roy Nelson and I thought John Bergman chimed in with some interesting thoughts. So for that, John wins the UFC Ultimate Submissions DVD. Congrats man.
Last week I was watching Invicta FC 6 and a young Mizuki Inoue beat a tough Bec Hyatt via unanimous decision. Not only is the Japanese fighter eighteen-years-old, she has a professional record of 6-1. That night, I was perusing through Twitter and saw a comment from a MMA writer who was acting sort of self-righteous and was saying that eighteen-year-olds should not be fighting as professionals. I’m not sure why the comment bugged me but I was curious on what his reasoning was.
MMA Musings: Is eighteen-years-old too young for pros?
So we had a little debate on Twitter which is never really a good idea because it’s tough to formulate full thoughts when you only have so many words. I obviously disagreed with the statement. I immediately wondered if the bold statement was a “look at me” soap box moment and maybe there was a bit of hypocrisy behind the statement. This certain writer is notorious for being a bit of an ass clown, but it was his opinion so I respected that.
The reasoning he thought eighteen-year-old boys or girls were too young for professional MMA was because of the fear of head injuries. There is a lot of discussion in pro sports when it comes to head injuries and concussions. I completely agree, you have to be very careful with your melon. What I find so odd is that a lot of these people who share the same opinion to this writer, are also big fans of football or hockey. Please explain to me the difference. How can you be okay someone who is eighteen playing in those sports but not okay with them competing in MMA?
Both those sports have eighteen-year-olds smashing into each other at high speeds. If there is any reason to be concerned about head trauma at a younger age, we can start by taking a serious look at those sports before we should even touch mixed martial arts. I don’t even want to get into stats because we have all heard and read them before. If you haven’t? Do some research.
I want to make something clear though, I strongly believe that if kids want to start learning MMA at a younger age than eighteen, all sparring and even some competitions should include head gear and other protective pads. Most kids I see at eighteen-years-old are just starting to compete in the amateur ranks. Here in British Columbia amateur fights are not much different than professional bouts. Amateurs can’t use elbows and submissions are called if the referee sees that the maneuver is slapped on pretty tight to avoid any major damage to a fighter who may try and play tough guy and not tap.
However, every once in a while we may see a prodigy. A kid, who at eighteen-years-old, has the skill set to compete with men. Sidney Crosby walked into the NHL at eighteen and became an instant superstar, same with Alex Ovechkin. Yet even in the NHL it is rare to see eighteen-year-olds walk in and become an immediate impact on their team. The same goes with mixed martial arts.
Inoue is more the exception than the rule. I personally believe that young fighters should fight as long as they can as amateurs before making the leap to pros, but we have to accept that there will be a few that skip a head to the professional ranks because they are just that damn good.
Rory MacDonald, who is set to face Jake Ellenberger at UFC on Fox 8, had his first professional fight at the tender age of sixteen…not eighteen…sixteen. Too young? I would say that sixteen might be a tad too young for my liking, but Rory started when the sport was still trying to find its way and there really wasn’t much in terms of quality amateur bouts. Rory was one of those special kids who was really good at what he did and found success at an early age.
Another young Canadian fighter Jordan Mein started competing in the amateur ranks when he was fourteen. Once he compiled a 6-1 record, he was off to be a pro at eighteen and at the age of twenty three has a 27-9 pro record.
In my opinion MMA is a safer sport than many other full contact sports that are out there. You are starting to see younger kids get into MMA and over the next few years we are going to start seeing a new breed of fighter. My biggest issue with younger kids learning to fight is not with the odd head shot, but with joint manipulation. Kids are getting into Jiu-Jitsu at a young age and one of the biggest safety concerns is making sure kids know when to let go and not try and snap their training partner’s arm or leg.
If someone is eighteen-years-old and they want to compete in the pros, I say allow them to do so if they are ready to make that huge step. They are adults. If they have great coaching and know the risks (that are inherent in any sport) there is no reason to say they shouldn’t be allowed. If you want to get on your soap box and preach to the masses that eighteen is too young, than you better be prepared to point the finger at other sports too.
How young is too young for someone to fight in a cage or ring? Let me know what you think of my stance and come correct with your own opinion. Agree or disagree it doesn’t matter. The best comment will win a T-shirt from a brand new Canadian company called Fight for Something. Follow them on Twitter and check out their website.