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SAFE MMA Initiative Launched in U.K.

Ariel Shnerer / October 25, 2012 - 11:03am

The Centre of Health and Human Performance in London, U.K. has launched a SAFE MMA initiative.

SAFE MMA is a non-profit organization to improve the safety of mixed martial artists competing in the U.K.

Full press release below:

(London. 25th Oct.12) The Centre of Health and Human Performance at 76 Harley Street, London is proud to announce the launch of SAFE MMA.

SAFE MMA is a not for profit organisation established to improve the safety of MMA fighters in the UK. Under the Safe MMA banner, the medical centre provides a secure, centralised and confidential database for fighter medical records; and coordinates affordable, standardised blood and medical tests for all registered fighters. Additionally, SAFE MMA members will have access to advice from leading world experts in sports medicine.

UK promotions Cage Warriors, BAMMA and UCMMA united to help found the project and have agreed that from 1st January 1013 all fighters on their cards must be registered to SAFE MMA and undergo annual medical tests and bi-annual blood tests.  The promotions have agreed only to use fighters that are deemed medically safe to fight under the SAFE MMA (green light) system and not to use fighters that are suspended due to injuries, such as concussion, or who are overdue for blood tests, for example. Additionally, the promotions have pledged to have medical professionals carry out pre- and post-fight tests with all results to be submitted to the confidential medical database at 76 Harley St. Medical data will never be transmitted to anyone but SAFE MMA will be able to give a rapid and all-hours service to inform authorised promotions of who is medically safe to fight and who needs to be rechecked, at the time of enquiry.

Nominal annual registration fees for fighters (£235 + GP medical), fighters' gyms (£60 - £240) and new promotions (£600) cover the running costs of the project, which is not for profit; and annual accounts will be published publicly on the SAFE MMA website. All other UK promotions will be able to apply for Safe MMA membership. (See 'Ends' for full details of Fighter Passport service provided by 76 Harley St and covered by fighter registration fee).

The British Medical Association now wants MMA banned. 76 Harley Street will speak out in defence of SAFE MMA promotions. The SAFE MMA project involves the collation of anonymous statistics for medical research into fighter safety, injuries, rehabilitation and performance. If a severe accident or fatality occurs and a promotion falls under investigation, statistical back-up via the SAFE MMA database can be drawn on, appropriate safety measures can be shown to be in place and medical expert opinion can be sought.

SAFE MMA is run on a voluntary basis, headed by leading experts from the world of Sports Medicine: Professor Greg Whyte is the preeminent authority on Physiology, Sports Performance and Rehabilitation in the UK. Alongside Clinical Director, Dr Jack Kreindler, Whyte specialises in optimising athletic performance for Olympic and extreme sports. Dr. Michael Loosemore provides medical expertise to the Amateur Boxing Association of England and has travelled extensively with national squads to Olympic and Commonwealth Games, and World and European Championships. Loosemore is the Chief Medical Officer for the Commonwealth Games.  76 Harley Street attracts a host of elite international sports names.

Alongside the founding promotions, MMA advisors to the project include top world ranked Flyweight fighter and osteopath, Dr. Rosi Sexton and internationally renowned referee, Marc Goddard - both of whom have been involved in the British MMA scene since its inception and active in the promotion of fighter wellbeing. Marc Goddard runs the only accepted MMA Referee course in the UK.  Additional support to the project has been provided by Cage Warrior's commentator, John Gooden, and Izzy Carnwath (BAMMA PR).

SAFE MMA is working closely with the newly formed UK MMA Federation, with Marc Goddard and Rosi Sexton having interim membership to both boards.

Benefits to SAFE MMA members include:

yearly medical & six-monthly blood tests active confidential database for fighters well-being and current medical status member promotions using athletes found only within the confidential, medical database and whose gyms are Safe MMA registered listed promotions enforcing medically advised suspensions to athletes under the register an affordable cost access to sports based medical advice that fighters can trust Cage Warriors, BAMMA and UCMMA urge all fighters, UK promotions and gyms to register to the project and help establish health and safety standards for MMA in the UK.

Rosi Sexton said:

"SAFE MMA is the way forward. It gives fighters the reassurance of knowing that their safety is being taken seriously, and will help the legitimacy and reputation of our sport as a whole. This is a milestone for UKMMA, and I'd urge all fighters, coaches and promoters to support it and get involved."

Director of UCMMA, Dave O'Donnell commented:

"It's been a long time in the making, but at last steps are being made to make MMA safe in this country. Fighters want it, trainers want it and so do promotions:  SAFE MMA is the best thing to happen for this sport for years. UCMMA and myself are behind this 100%. It's going to take time and not going to be easy but Rome wasn't built in a day; so let's get building and bring this sport to the next level."

BAMMA's VP of Talent Relations, Jude Samuel said:

"BAMMA is really proud to be on board with SAFE MMA. The launch of this project marks a major step forward for MMA in this country as different promotions have at last come together to focus on the wider issues affecting the sport. One thing we all have in common is a concern for the medical safety of athletes. I urge all UK promotions, gyms and fighters to join us in signing up to SAFE MMA to make a stand for fighter safety and to help protect and legitimise the sport in the UK."

Cage Warrior's director, Graham Boylan said:

"This initiative is a huge step in the right direction for MMA in the UK. The sport in this country is still in its infancy to an extent so we at Cage Warriors welcome the introduction of SAFE MMA and we're very pleased to be involved.

"The safety and well-being of fighters is our utmost priority. We've always endeavoured to do things the right way for the good of fighters' health. Last year we introduced mandatory blood-testing, which one is just one example of what needs to be done.

"Fighters sacrifice so much and really put themselves on the line, so the onus is on the likes of us to introduce measures to ensure that it's possible for them to showcase their talents in as safe an environment as possible.

"The introduction of SAFE MMA will bring UK MMA another step closer to where it needs to be and I would urge all fighters, gyms and promotions to get involved. This really is essential for the future of our sport. As long as this is in place and supported well it will be a game-changer for MMA in this country."

Marc Goddard said:

"I am very excited and personally thrilled at the launch of SAFE MMA here in the UK. Since its inception and our initial discussions the goal for me has been clear – to help raise and maintain the safety standards by which Mixed Martial Artists compete here in the UK. For me there was simply no other place to start, other than the single most important aspect of MMA competition – the safest possible environment in which fighters can compete. Bringing together the UK's leading and most established promotions under a single common goal was also a huge personal achievement for me.

Together we strive for the same end goal, but without the commitment of these major organisations to the concept of SAFE, our initial launch would have been so much more arduous. Even more excitingly the later birth of the UKMMAF, which will have dual member representation in the form of myself and my colleague Rosi Sexton, created a unique opportunity which allowed for mutual recognition between the UKMMAF and SAFE MMA. SAFE MMA with its solely unique approach to covering only the medical and safety aspect makes for a smooth transition, and an almost "plug-in" medical advisory application instantly in tandem with the growth of the additional facets that a full and true Governing Body will bring.

SAFE MMA welcomes all willing participants and new member promotions who also share in the same aim as the founding organisations. I very much look forward to the growth of member applicants into 2013 and beyond. The SAFE MMA project has been a long time coming."

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