"I think it's a very ignorant comment on his part": Safe MMA founder Aisling Daly hits back at Shane Ross

The Minister described the sport as "disturbing" and full of "brutality"

"I think it's a very ignorant comment on his part": Safe MMA founder Aisling Daly hits back at Shane Ross

Shane Ross speaking at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

In the wake of comments made by the Minster for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, Ireland's MMA community has once again found itself in the headlines. 

Calling for the sport to be regulated, Minister Ross stated that he found some aspects of mixed martial arts "disturbing," labeling it as "savagery".

"It should be, at the very least, strictly regulated," Mr Ross told The Irish Daily Mail. "I find some of the scenes in it quite disturbing.

"I think the rules should ensure that there is an absolute absence of brutality or savagery or anything like it. We are reviewing this, to find the best way of regulating it to ensure it is as safe as any other sport."

Speaking to High Noon, fighter and co-founder of Safe MMA Aisling Daly hit back at the comments by the Minister, stating that he should attend an MMA club to see the way in which fighters train first hand before dismissing the sport entirely.

"I think it's a very ignorant comment on his part," said Daly. I'm sure he's never been to any mixed martial arts club, and he's never seen the environment in which we train, he doesn't really understand the skills involved in competing in mixed martial arts. I think he should probably educate himself a little bit further before he makes comments like that.

"I don't really feel the need to defend the sport in that way," Daly added. "This debate has been going on for a long time, and I think a lot of the results that we've had as a country in terms of mixed martial arts have shown that we are at a high skill level."

Referencing the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho at an event in Dublin last April, Daly added that many of the safety measures which have since put in place were already in the process of being implemented, as the sport looked to impose high safety standards and regulations across the board. 

"We need to have better safety standards in place, and we were in the process of implementing these changes already, but they hadn't quite reached the highest level. We're trying to get all these things in place now, so that something like that will never happen again. 

"All our amateurs, all our pros are going to have MRIs done; they're going to be checked out before competition, before they ever get in the ring to compete, to make sure that there's nothing there that's going to leave them more likely to be seriously injured."

In the time since, MMA in Ireland has made a number of moves to demonstrate the sport's willingness to take steps forward, including by setting up a governing body. However, Daly stated there's still plenty of work to be done on that front too. 

"We're not quite at that level. In terms of a governing body, we're well behind places like the IRFU and stuff like that," admitted Daly, "we're really only in the infancy of this. Safe MMA isn't a governing body, we consult with IMMAA and give them direction on what way the safety standards should go. 

"But, by the end of this year, our safety standard in MMA will actually be higher than that in boxing, amateur and professional," Daly added.