Cage Warriors Tournament A Step Backwards For European MMA

Today Cage Warriors announced that they will be hosting a four man, one night tournament in Dublin to crown their first Flyweight champion. For many reasons, this is a big step backward for European MMA.

In 2008, Bob Meyrowitz the first promoter and owner of the UFC announced that he was starting up a new group. YAMMA Pit Fighting was to have an old school eight man heavyweight tournament. They also claimed to have a ‘new, revolutionary’ fighting area to ‘eradicate stalling tactics’. I won’t be talking about that terrible idea but I will be talking about another.

The New Jersey Athletic Control Board was AT BEST disappointed with a group promoting a one night tournament in 2008. In the Unified Rules of MMA which New Jersey helped draft, it states that the maximum that a fighter can compete in one night is five rounds of five minutes. So far, so normal. This meant that the first and second rounds of the tournament would be five minutes apiece. A real conducive time frame for finding out the winner of an MMA fight. The final would then be five, five minutes rounds. You know, like any run of the mill, PROFESSIONAL bout.

The whole shebang was widely ridiculed for being out of touch and embarrassing for an MMA group in 2008. It also sucked a massive cock in execution. All you need to know is that Travis Wiuff said pre fight that if he got five takedowns, he would win the whole tournament. Remember that there are five potential rounds and you get the picture. 

Flash foreword to 2013 and the afore mentioned Cage Warriors one night tournament. The first round will be Ultimate Fighter rules. Two five minute rounds and it goes to a third if necessary. The final will be the standard length of a title fight, five, five minute rounds. So a potential 40 minutes of fighting before being crowned CWFC Flyweight Champion. This is a criminal sin under the Unified Rules.

The potential for injuries after one fight is huge. Look at the medical suspensions after UFC 157. Brendan Schaub, Dennis Bermudez, Matt Grice and Dan Henderson were suspended for 60 days after their fights by the California State Athletic Commission. Brendan Schaub is a cause for concern here. Despite fighting a ‘lay and pray’ style fight against Lavar Johnson, he was still deemed unfit to fight for TWO MONTHS. The idea that fighters can ‘take it easy’ to win their first round fight is shot. Also, look at the Bermudez v Grice fight. Both guys came out with concussions, cuts and bruises that would keep them out of training for two months. Allowing a fighter to fight a further 25 minutes after sustaining those injuries, major or minor is criminal in 2013.

The argument that they could be pulled out of the finals if injured beyond repair is also flawed. It lends the tournament and the belt itself no prestige whatsoever.

Last week, the Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Ireland (MMAFI) was given full backing by the Minister for Culture and Sport, Carál Ní Chuilín. The group recently gained member status to the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF). On their website they state “The purpose of IMMAF is to further the development and recognition of the sport of mixed martial arts, enabling international competition through the organisation of national MMA federations around the world.”

Given the ridicule that groups such as YAMMA and KSW in Poland have received in the media for messing around with established Unified Rules it’s disappointing that Cage Warriors have come to Ireland with this planned tournament. Closer to home we’ve had the Celtic Gladiator fiasco, where questionable judging, fighter supplies and refereeing led to at least one high profile club to sever ties with them. 

As a country and as individuals we need to move the sport towards full regulation and not away from it. As the biggest promotion in Europe and the Middle East, Cage Warriors should be leading the way.


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