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Ultimate Fighting Championship is banned in the province. Will a hard sell from UFC president be able to change that?
UFC cleaned up its act over the years, implemented five weight classes for fighters and banned head butting, eye gouging, biting, hair pulling and striking the throat, spine or back of the head. Bouts are three rounds, a maximum of five minutes each — five rounds for championship bouts.
A 2006 study by academics at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine examined injuries from 171 MMA fights in Nevada. Forty percent ended with injuries, most of them minor. The most common (48 percent) were cuts to the face, followed by hand injuries, nose injuries and eye injuries.
The injury rate, the study found, was “in keeping with other combat sports.” Fighters spend a lot of time wrestling on the floor and bouts are often stopped by fighters who “tap out” — a signal that means they quit. Fights end with fewer knockouts and fewer blows to the head than in boxing, the report says.
Still, it’s hard to imagine that violence is the reason Ontario politicians shy away from mixed martial arts. Hockey, after all, is Canada’s national sport. And rarely has Rodney Dangerfield’s famous quip — “I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out” — sounded truer than in recent months.
More disturbing than the hockey fights have been the growing number of body checks to the head that have left players sprawled and concussed on the ice, sometimes with season-ending injuries. (The NHL this month passed a rule to ban them.)
A typical moment occurred March 7, when the Pittsburg Penguin’s Matt Cooke gave the Boston Bruin’s Marc Savard a season-ending concussion and skated away without a penalty. When the teams met again March 18, revenge was on the menu.
When Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton and Cooke finally dropped their gloves and went at it, one network replayed the fight four times, to the euphoric, blow-by-blow description of the broadcasters.
With hockey brawls regularly peddled live on TV, who needs the UFC?