A MANDURAH mixed martial arts (MMA) coach said cage fighting prospects will continue to leave the State for better opportunities unless WA’s cage fighting ban is removed.
Speaking after a successful Jiu Jitsu raid in Perth, where five of his 15 fighters claimed gold, Next Generation Martial Arts Marcus McKeever said the level that some fighters are at in WA is low in comparison to other States.
“The cage ban hurts us in a couple of ways,” he said.
“People think MMA is illegal and it’s not, you can do it, you just can’t do it in the cage.
“And right now, fighters have to travel to other states to get the exposure.”
McKeever said the cage ban also puts fighters at risk of serious injuries.
“The cage is a safety net designed to stop fighters from falling out,” he said.
One of his best young fighters, 16-year-old Michael Letizia, is heading to the Gold Coast in May to further his career as a fighter. McKeever’s aim as coach is to get the teenager MMA fights while he is there.
Recently Ultimate Fighter (an MMA reality show) trainer and former world number two Brazilian Jui Jitsu fighter Jimmy Harbison was a guest coach at McKeever’s gym.
Harbison hails from New Jersey across the river from New York, where MMA was banned in 1997.
“New York is one of the biggest fight cities, but you couldn’t fight in the ring,” he said.
Harbison said local MMA fighters who feel hamstrung by the ban should look at the New York scenario and realise prohibition can’t stop the growth of the sport.
“Bans are never going to be permanent,” he said.
“The sport will keep growing.
“You’d be losing money by not wanting the UFC to come to WA.”
The WA Government implemented a cage fighting ban in 2013, which the UFC said cost the State an opportunity to host an event.
The cage is an eight-sided fence called “The Octagon” and designed to prevent fighters from falling out of the arena.
It also means a more even fight for fighters with different fighting specialities.
because of to be removed in order for his fighters to fully develop and go on to careers in the UFC.
McKeever welcomed WA Labor’s long-standing commitment that it would lift the cage ban if elected, but he said the matter should never have been a political issue.
“It’s a rule some politicians brought in, who say the cage has no place in a civilized society,” he said.
“What – the society we are living in now? Where there are kids on drugs and assaults?
“We get kids here training who are eating clean. They’re not on drugs and they don’t drink.”
WA remains the only State in Australia where cage fighting is banned.
McKeever said the WA ban hindered opportunities for UFC to hold events in Perth and therefore opportunities for local fighters to gain international exposure by fighting on the undercard.