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Safe MMA For The Fighter, Promotion and Gym

January-02-13
With Safe MMA now in force, here are the reasons why it is beneficial for the sport here in the UK.

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As of January 1st, 2013, Safe MMA is in effect and is being utilised by the country's top promotions. If you're still not sure what it's all about and why it's beneficial, then hopefully this should provide some clarity.

What is Safe MMA?

SAFE MMA is a voluntary and not-for-profit medical project dedicated to the safety of MMA fighters in the UK. The project is run by leading doctors in sports medicine at 76 Harley Street (London), and advised by UK MMA representatives that include referee, Marc Goddard, and fighter, Rosi Sexton.

SAFE MMA marks the UK’s first step towards a unified, safer sport and aims to establish a realistic, minimum level of safety for MMA fighters.

SAFE MMA is being introduced by 3 of the UK’s biggest promotions; Cage Warriors, BAMMA and UCMMA. From January 2013, any UK professional fighter competing on their UK shows will need to be Safe MMA registered. Membership is open to all British promotions and already more have pledged to sign up in 2013.

SAFE MMA has been recognised by the UKMMAF as its preferred, independent medical advisory.

What Does Safe MMA Involve?

SAFE MMA’s primary goal is to establish a standardised fighter passport register, and an active medical database for UK fighters’ well-being and current medical status:

• Under SAFE MMA, UK fighters commit to:
-a yearly medical and 6 monthly blood tests (at an affordable cost)
- FREE pre and post-fight medicals (paid for by the promotions)
• Safe MMA test results will determine if a fighter is safe to fight; or what medical advice and care he/she needs
• Member promotions will commit to only using fighters found within the registered database on UK shows
• The passport registry tells the promotions if a fighter is SAFE to fight or not, at a given point in time, as advised by the Centre of Health and Human Performance at 76 Harley St as an independent, medical advisory
• SAFE MMA promotions agree to uphold advised medical suspensions (e.g. for concussion)

What does it mean for fighters?

Here’s an example of how it works: Once a fighter applies to SAFE MMA they will be registered onto the database and sent a medical pack which they can take to their GP. The medical pack will include a blood vial and the fighter medical assessment form, which will involve various cognitive and physical tests concerned with vision, blood pressure, heart conditions, medical history, allergies and mechanics of limbs.

After the tests, the GP will then send off the bloods and the results of the medical assessment. The bloods will be directed to the preferred pathology laboratory and the results entered into the secure database. Once all results are cleared, the fighter will be given the green light and will be then open to the biggest UK promotions for selection.

Additionally SAFE MMA’s tracking of post-fight medical reports will enable SAFE MMA doctors to recommend particular treatments if fighters have suffered successive Knock Outs or lesions, for example. This practice of record keeping and data collection is crucial in keeping fighters safe and competing for longer.

Other benefits to fighters include:

· Unlimited email support service on key next steps to take with infections or injuries after event or report.
· Priority referral, best possible rates and booking to Sports Injury / Neurology / Plastics / Orthopaedics / Rheumatology / Physiology / Endocrinology / Ophthalmology experts and imaging centres within NHS or privately.
· Exclusive news and seminars regarding fighter safety and performance advances.
Fighter membership ranges from £75 for 6 months (with supplied NHS blood results) to £235 for annual membership including blood tests via SAFE MMA.

Confidentiality

Fighters’ full medical information is confidential and handled only by clinic staff.

Promotions are informed of fighters’ availability to fight via a simple green light system only.

If a fighter is not cleared to fight at that time, the system will read ‘not clear to fight’ and no further details shall be given. The only other information that will be shared with promotions is if a fighter’s blood test period has expired because this will allow a promoter to remind the individual.

What does SAFE MMA mean for promotions?

All SAFE MMA promotions commit to only using fighters from the Safe MMA register, who are medically safe to fight and who fight out of SAFE MMA registered gyms.

Member promotions agree to unite in enforcing suspensions as recommended by SAFE MMA. They also commit to having a doctor head up pre and post-fight medicals at their shows; and to sending their suspension recommendations to SAFE MMA for recording the data and for further evaluation if required.

The benefits of SAFE MMA membership to promotions include:

• fighter safety
• 24 hour email medical advice service
• liability protection: If a severe accident or fatality occurs and a promotion falls under investigation, expert medical opinion and data will be available as well as a demonstration of safety measures created by relevant medical experts.
• listing on the SAFE MMA website and use of the SAFE MMA logo as a mark of good practice and credibility

The annual registration cost to promotions is £600

What does it mean for gyms?

It is important that gyms commit to supporting SAFE MMA medical suspensions and advice, as making a fighters’ environment safe is a responsibility shared equally by promotions and gyms.

For example, SAFE MMA gyms will commit to discouraging fighters from full contact sparring after a concussion occurs, whether in a fight or in the gym, to avoid further injury. They need to support fighters in following return-to-play guidelines as supplied by SAFE MMA.

The partnership between gyms and promotions will additionally help cut down on the use of independent fighters.

The benefits to gyms include:

· Unlimited email medical support service, priority medical referral, annual/pre and post-fight medicals and blood tests in relation to their fighters
· Exclusive news and seminars regarding fighter safety and performance advances. 
· Guarantee of clean bloods between their professional fighters and access for a gym’s fighters to fight on Safe MMA shows against other fighters who have been tested
· Liability protection. Harley Street doctors will be able to speak out in defence of SAFE MMA gyms should there be a serious accident or tragedy of some kind
· Use of Safe MMA logo  in promotional material and advertising
· Credibility that could encourage increased membership as SAFE MMA will not accept independent fighters and therefore fighters will need to be associated to a SAFE MMA registered gym

Membership for gyms or a chain of gyms ranges from £60 to £240 depending on the number of fighters competing out of the gym.

Why is SAFE MMA important?

Currently in UK MMA we have no baseline medical requirements and no independent authority to advise on the correct medical standards. This not only endangers fighters but it can also lead to anonymity being compromised, fraudulent results and duplication. All this leaves the sport very open to scrutiny from authorities.

With increasingly negative media stories, the sport has received poor reviews from the British Medical Association who have significant influence within the sporting and political communities. They now want MMA banned.

SAFE MMA will set a medical standard in making the sport safer and will provide UK competitors with better access to specialist sports medical advice and care. It will also start a medical reporting process that will collect data on injuries so that evidence can be produced should elements of the sport be summoned to a court of law. The doctor and professors at 76 Harley Street have pledged to stand by SAFE MMA members should this occur.

The collection of data will additionally allow medical professionals to analyse injury patterns, which will in turn lead to more effective injury management and prevention and will help reduce the risks associated with UK mixed martial arts.

Longer term that he setting of medical standards will help attract funding, sponsorship and more legitimate sports coverage to MMA; and historical medical data will allow insurance underwriters to offer promoters and fighters insurance.

For further information and Q& A visit www.safemma.co.uk or email press@safe-mma.co.uk.

Safe MMA Press Conference / Safe MMA: Fighter Opinion

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