A MORLEY mixed martial arts (MMA) coach has backed calls to lift a ban on cage fighting due to the risk of injuries in a modified ring.
In 2013, the State Government implemented a ban on fighting in octagons and fights had to be conducted in a modified boxing ring.
Premier Colin Barnett previously said he did not like the image of cage fighting.
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan announced on Tuesday Labor would overturn the ban if elected at next year’s State Election after previously being supportive of the ban.
99ers MMA Gym coach Mike Boland said fighters were more likely to sustain injuries in a ring compared to an octagon.
“I guess it is the stigma that they are trying to avoid but in my mind, they should not ban it and allow the cage rather than allow it in the ring,” he said.
“People are flying out of the ring or hitting their heads on where they think there is something but there is not.”
East Metropolitan MLC Amber-Jade Sanderson said the Combat Sports Commission, which oversees MMA, supported the use of the octagon.
“WA is the only place in the world where that is the case and it really because Colin Barnett has stated publicly he does not like the look of it,” she said.
“What that has meant for the sport is operating in WA under very unsafe circumstances in the boxing ring where competitors can fall out of the ring, hit their head or get an injury.”
Ms Sanderson said the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would bring the sport to Perth if the ban was lifted next year.
“I recognise it is an increasingly popular sport and it is our responsibility to make sure that it is done in the safest circumstances and it might not be for everyone,” she said.
Acting Premier Liza Harvey said the cage fighting issue was a “captain’s pick” from the WA Labor leader and the State Government’s stance on cage fighting had not changed.
Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said MMA was a dangerous sport and he supported the ban.
“Once trapped in a cage the losing fighter can be beaten and kicked unconscious within the rules of this violent spectacle,” Dr Miller said.
“Until it is banned, it should not be legal to conduct it in a cage as this will only make the activity seem safe and make it more popular.
“Saying UFC is safer in a cage is like saying we will all be safer when everyone carries a gun.”