John Kavanagh, Conor McGregor’s coach has put safety of his fighters above all else in 2017 by requiring all of his fighters undergo mandatory brain scans if they want to represent SBG Ireland in 2017.
Last week Sports Minister, Shane Ross said he intended to introduce greater regulation for MMA and suggested elements of the sport were ‘disturbing’.
Ross intends to make the sport as safe as any sport. He told the Irish Daily Mail,
” It should be at the very least regulated, strictly regulated. I find some of the scenes in it quite disturbing. We are looking at the regulation and how it should be regulated, in my department at the moment. I think the rules should ensure that there is an absolute absence of brutality or savagery or anything like it.”
With Conor McGregor’s success, the popularity of MMA has soared across Ireland but is still seen in some quarters as barbaric and not sport. John Kavanagh and several other people helped create the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association which is trying to set in place basic standards, their objective being, ‘ to establish MMA as a legitimate sport in Ireland, along with the structures that will allow that’.
Speaking to the Irish Sunday Independent at the weekend, Kavanagh admitted that McGregor has concerns about long term damage to the head however his style helps reduce chance.
He said, ” It’s a concern of every fighter. At that level of fighting the risk is very real. But I think you can add on two hands the number of clean head shots Conor has taken in 10 years of pro fighting. His style of fighting answers that, because his style is not brawling. He doesn’t step in the pocket and exchange punches. His style is in and out, he’s very defensive. That style was born through not wanting to lose and not wanting to take head shots, and not wanting to damage the software.”
In reply to Shane Ross, Kavanagh agreed that MMA should be ‘strictly regulated’ and added that the minister should not bother watching if he believes it’s a brutal sport, “some people think rugby and NFL are brutal” he added.
Kavanagh believes the key to protecting the athletes long term health is through education. He said, “we can reach that lofty goal of this being the first generation with no incidents of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)” CTE is a progressive degenerative disease found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma.