There are times when being a MMA fan is immensely frustrating. The sport has earned a poor reputation in many spheres through tired anecdotes and un-educated opinions. Tabloid-like headlines regarding fighter safety are a familiar sight in the Irish sporting press.
There is rarely a mention of the work that Safe MMA and the IMMAF have done to improve safety. Following the death of Joao Carvalho, most of the headlines at the time involved “McGregor Team-mate…”. McGregor had little relevance to the Carvalho tragedy, but his name was prominent in the coverage. Could it be because the very mention of McGregor's name garners clicks like no other? Is it the knowledge that the sport's fan-base respond to such attacks? Possibly it's all just a coincidence.
Boxing and MMA aren't for everybody. I can accept that. Even if you've no interest in the sport, the back stories of Conor and Floyd are ridiculously interesting. They are examples of how hard work and self-belief can lead to life changing results. You can speak about the negatives of both men's character outside of their chosen professions, but you would expect some balance (which generally is missing or heavily weighted to sell the narrative of the piece).
Sadly, two of the world's most famous publications are once again taking the sensationalism route to garner interest in their work. In the Irish Times case it's the third piece in a week that has had a negative tone about the bout or McGregor himself. We're a day away from a historic bout for both MMA and boxing; yet the headline we're looking at is: “Is the McGregor and Mayweather fight safe? Doctors say no”.
There are two problems I see with the Times article. Firstly, Dr. Lovelace is giving his own opinion. He is not speaking for the Association of Ringside Physicians. The second item I've a massive problem with, is associating this bout with Tim Hague's tragic death (simply because Hague had also fought in MMA).
No Doctor Recommends Potential Head Trauma
Let's get this straight; no doctor would state that a combat sport involving head trauma is safe. They'd recommend avoiding head trauma in non-combat sports too. We're all aware of American Football and Rugby's moves to protect their participants from repeated head traumas. Even football (soccer to my American friends), has had to start thinking about the possibilities that heading the ball has impacts on players' later life.
“Unless there is scientific evidence to support the view that such a change might improve the safety of the bout, we should strongly caution against allowing current regulations to be over-ruled,” Monsell wrote. “To do so would also set a precedent for future bouts.”
Ultimately the Association of Ringside Physicians only challenged one part of the licensing process officially. That was the change to 8 oz. gloves. At no other point did they officially object to the bout at the earlier stages. This story is all based on Dr. Lovelace's quotes and personal opinions. No official statement has come from the Association of Ringside Physicians has been made about the bout.
“We were very surprised this bout was even sanctioned and was going to be permitted to carry on,” said Larry Lovelace (the president of the A.R.P, a body which is focuses on preserving fighter safety). “The thing I really fear, truly fear, is that somebody’s going to get really hurt in this upcoming fight.”
The basis of the whole premise is sensationalist and without balance. There is no attempt to validate how prominent the opinion of the “we” Lovelace spoke of. There was no query as to why the A.R.P. did not petition the Nevada Athletic Commission to not sanction the bout. The author could have even asked if Dr. Lovelace had any knowledge of McGregor's amateur background. In fact the author of the piece quickly moves away from Dr. Lovelace's two line quote to the death of Tim Hague so as to add some sort of weight to the doctor's thoughts.
The Use Of Tim Hague's Death Is Lazy Journalism
For those that are not aware. Tim Hague is a former MMA fighter who tragically died following a boxing match earlier this year. The only direct comparison you can make between Hague and McGregor is that they both have fought in MMA. What the article fails to tell you is that in the year before Hague's death he had suffered four losses by KO or TKO whilst competing in MMA. The bigger story would be that Edmonton's Combat Sports Commission missed potentially six mandatory suspensions in Hague's case (in fact he fought in MMA bouts twice in their jurisdiction whilst he should have been suspended).
The reality is that the Edmonton commission failed Hague by not following their own rules and safety protocols. Hague should have been on a medical suspension and not licensed to fight. I would strongly suggest the writer gets familiar with the facts related to the boxing match that ultimately cost Hague his life. Mike Russell of RealFightStories.com summary of the events, is a perfect source for those that want a full background as to why the Hague tragedy is much different to this fight.
To compare Hague and McGregor (without providing background or balance that illustrates why the comparison is not justified given the scenarios) is troubling to me. It's almost as bad as trying to paint a picture that Bob Bennett and the N.A.C have fiduciary requirements at the heart of their reasoning.
McGregor has met all the protocols both medically and professionally to take part in this bout. Bennett himself had voiced concerns previously when McGregor initial license attempt was rejected by the N.A.C. But again, the quote that Bennett made at the time would harm the narrative of the Times is trying to sell.
I wished people would speak about how historic this event is. I wish they would speak about the skills and efforts of the participants. There is so much that could be spoken about, but it appears cheap clicks are more important.
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