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July 2017

Unregulated Martial Arts in Alabama and Keeping People Safe

The era of regulated mixed martial arts within Alabama is proving to have more than its fair share of complications. From a shrinking fighter base to a rash of unforeseen injuries, the newly encountered issues have caused problems for local promoters even forcing the cancellation of one event.

Similar to the recent stretch of bad luck that has affected the Ultimate Fighting Championship of late, Alabama’s local scene has fell victim to a high number of sudden injuries from accidents both recreational and during training.

Examples of recent injuries include the unfortunate incident in which David McAfee was severely injured during training and had a hole punched in his trachea while in a chokehold. Not realizing the severity of his injury “D’Mac” continued training and suffered a subsequent shattering of his right eye socket. He had been scheduled to compete at Atlas Fights MMA on July 14 but will now be sidelined for around 12 weeks.

Jack Whitfield was another victim of the injury bug after tearing both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament over the past week. Whitfield is set to have surgery later this month and will be on the shelf for the next six weeks before being able to return to training.

Making the injuries even more problematic for promoters is the fact that many of the state’s eligible fighters are being forced to sign contracts preventing them from competing upon other shows 30-days prior to the scheduled event.

Some have questioned the validity of making amateur fighters sign a contract while others argue it is just good business sense. Ultimately, the practice reduces the fighter pool a promoter can draw from, but other promoters look at it as protecting their interests.

Another reason promoters have found it difficult to keep their rosters stacked is due to the mandatory medical suspensions that are levied against fighters following competition. Every person that fights must serve an involuntary seven-day suspension afterwards, and anyone that lost via knockout or TKO is also subject to a 30, 60, or 90-day suspension as well.

An injured fighter will be placed in the national database as suspended for seven days and will come off automatically after that date. The competitor will not be able to take another fight during that time. Anyone that does participate in mixed martial arts action while suspended will lose their fighter license, could face a lengthy suspension and, would have to present themselves before the commission. Fighters are urged to use protective training gear and tools like those reviewed here – US Combat Sport’s Focus Mitts. 

Finally, the amount of licensed and eligible fighter pool may be beginning to dwindle from Olympic to kiddie pool due to fighters competing on unsanctioned shows not authorized by the Alabama Athletic Commission. Any fighter that participates in these shows will likely have their license suspended for 60 days. A second violation of this rule could result in a permanent suspension.

No one said that making the sudden change to the regulation era would be a smooth and perfect process. But with proper safety measures, a more legitimate manner in handling injuries, and an education as to what will cause athletes to be suspended, fighters and promoters have the ability to work together in order to create a more harmonious solution to some of the early problems being faced within Alabama’s mixed martial arts scene.