With the recent partnership between the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) being completed, valued at around $21.4 billion collectively, the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is seeing a huge rise in fans across the globe. For example, the leading organisation, the UFC, has an estimated 300 million fans across the globe. Although the UFC president, Dana White, claims ‘nothing changes in our business’, the recent merger illustrates a popular merging between MMA and entertainment as new ‘MMA organisations’ seem to pop up regularly across the globe.
Taking the UFC as our prime example as it was the first MMA organisation of its kind, the law on MMA tournaments being broadcasted has come a long way. On first thought, you could assume that allowing as little room for restriction in these matches must breach some sections of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861, and other legislations abroad that handle assault, battery and other offences against bodily integrity. However, the UFC has fought tooth and nail to ensure proper regulation over their fighters and their rules. Originally starting with just 3 rules and now regulated by 30, it has sought to ensure fighter safety and protection against criminal legislation for acts of violence across the globe.
Unlike White’s resolve in ensuring that MMA will remain regulated within the UFC, the same cannot be said for knockoff MMA organisations that have less to do with martial arts and more to do with violence masqueraded as entertainment. Some of these ridiculous organisations include Hip Show: Arena Combat, where a 2 v 2 MMA-style fight takes place in an obstacle course and Car Fighting Championship, where an MMA fight takes place in a car. Another example is Power Slap, where two people take turns slapping each other until one cannot continue. This usually ends in a concussive knockout, unfortunately led by UFC president Dana White as a separate venture.
The recent emergence of the astounding number of MMA knockoff organisations looking for success in the market firstly highlights the demand for either violence, entertainment or a mix of the two. Secondly, it shows the downward trend of respect for the law and regulations in place, battled for and against by the UFC for years, all in favour of ensuring fighter safety. However, it seems this concern is no longer at the forefront of people’s minds. Overall, it seems this area of entertainment is turning further from the principles of most legitimate martial arts practices, which often seek to encourage peace.
This change from peaceful principles to violence for the sake of entertainment is best illustrated by the HFC (Hardcore Fighting Championship), where contestants scheduled to fight each other in cages with rules and regulations often cannot seem to wait and get into fist fights in pre-fight conferences and are often not broken up leading to serious injuries. The fact that these fights happen two or three times in one conference, with no attempt at splitting up the fighters, shows the encouragement towards pure violence. It also often makes for great clips on social media platforms for profit.
Unfortunately, after all the progress the UFC has made with branding MMA as a respectable and above-board sport, it seems the community is now travelling backwards. We can only hope that these events do not become common place. However, it seems when this violence is advertised as entertainment, rules and regulations have no concern anymore with what is and is not allowed. Evidently, the law must be weak if it is not able to keep up with these emerging organisations. However, it is difficult to say what proportion of these organisations are taking place domestically or not.