MMA Hits Another Obstacle in Gaining Acceptance in the United Kingdom

Jake HughesContributor IIISeptember 21, 2011

Michael Bisping hails from Clitheroe, not far from Preston.
Michael Bisping hails from Clitheroe, not far from Preston.Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

In typical Great British tradition, a video showing two young boys fighting in a MMA rules fight has sparked moral outrage on the island.

The footage, taken from Greenlands Labour Club in Preston, in the north-west of England, depicts two eight-year-olds participating in a MMA rules fight, supervised by adults.

The UFC's original UK posterboy Michael Bisping comes from the village of Clitheroe, Lancashire—a mere 16 miles away from where this story originated.

The video appears to be nothing more than submission grappling between the pair, but this has not stopped the British media skewing the story.

The factors that have seemed to have started this controversy are the boys' age and significant lack of headgear, something often required for amateur bouts in most combat sports.

The video has prompted the British Medical Association (BMA) to condemn the video, citing the dangers of brain injury as a major reason to not allow further MMA fights among youths to continue.

A BMA spokesman said: "This example of cage-fighting among young children in Preston is particularly disturbing, especially as they are not even wearing head guards.

"Boxing and cage-fighting are sometimes defended on the grounds that children learn to work through their aggression with discipline and control.

"The BMA believes there are many other sports, such as athletics, swimming, judo and football, which require discipline but do not pose the same threat of brain injury."

However, club manager Michelle Anderson insists that the kids involved enjoy the fights and that they are entirely legal, liaising with the local police force in Lancashire.

She told the BBC: "The children loved it, the kids who were involved in the fight on the night absolutely loved it.

"We work very closely with Preston police and the licensing department and they were happy for us to go ahead with this."

The BMA have long opposed boxing and MMA. However, while the organisation offers advice on how to regulate boxing, the BMA wish to abolish MMA altogether.

A statement from the BMA website reads: "As with boxing the BMA opposes mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting and calls for a complete ban on this type of contact sport."

The British mainstream press has also been reluctant to welcome MMA with open arms.

Dana White has previously said that the UK was a tough market to crack for the UFC.

On the topic of what market will be easier to break through out of Brazil and the UK, he said: "Brazil will be a zillion times easier to build the sport than the UK. They've got the fifth-largest economy and they don't have just talented guys, but icons of the sport. It's a fighting culture."

The United Kindom's most reputable new source, the BBC, has soundly rejected the sport of MMA—refusing one of the world's fastest growing sports of any media spotlight at all.

The BBC website's sport section has regularly-updated individual pages for over 45 sports, including Taekwondo, Judo, fencing, bowls and archery—yet mixed martial arts is not one of them.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC have jumped all over this story.

In a country where it's hard enough to catch a glimpse at any MMA-related media, stories like this will never help legitimize the sport in the eyes of the media.