"Without recognition, it's very difficult to regulate" - IMMAF CEO Densign White calls for full recognition to make MMA safer

Mr White was speaking this morning on Newstalk Breakfast

Mixed marital arts needs full recognition from countries around the world in order to ensure the safety of its fighters, says  IMMAF CEO Densign White.

Speaking on this morning's Newstalk Breakfast, Mr White called for the Irish government representatives to sit down with the IAPA [Irish Amateur Pankration Association] and the IMMAF [International Mixed Martial Arts Federation] to help ensure the well-being of fighters in this country.

"Joao Carvahlo's death was an isolated and tragic incident" he explained.

"What we were calling for since even before this happened is for the sport of MMA to be regulated and to be recognised. We have 53 members across five continents and I'd say about 50 per cent of our members are recognised by their country's National Olympic Committees. 

"In the rest MMA is not recognised and in one or two countries the sport is banned altogether... This isn't a sport that's going away. It's growing in popularity and has massive appeal.

"Without recognition it's difficult to regulate. I was talking to John Kavanagh who is president of the IAPA and he was telling us in Ireland alone, there were about 80 new gyms which have opened, but he only has a membership of 14."

Mr White responded to claims made by Michael Ring, acting Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, that he had "seen the dangers of this sport coming" and called on him to sit down with representatives from the IAPA and IMMAF to help regulate the sport.

"We've sent him a letter to reach out to him and explained that we'd like to meet with him and sit down to tell him what we're all about. 

"We want to show him what we're trying to do and how we're trying to self regulate but in the absence of government recognition or government regulation, our work is so much more difficult.

In response to last week's tragedy, White was also quick to affirm that referees receive adequate training to intervene in fights to protect fighters when they can no longer protect themselves.

"In my opinion, the referees are very quick to stop a fight once they see one of the athletes can't defend themselves.

"I have not seen a single match where a referee has allowed a single athlete to be repeatedly hit and there was no reply from the athlete.

"I can tell you in my experience in the events I've been to during my 18 months with the IMMAF, the referees are very quick to intervene."