ULTIMATE Fighting Championship president Dana White has criticised state laws that are preventing mixed martial arts from becoming one of the dominant sports in Australia.
Speaking before the UFC event in Sydney tomorrow night, White slammed the Victorian and Queensland governments' ban on mixed martial arts fights taking place in Melbourne and Brisbane.
While both states allow professional fights within a ring, the UFC is prohibited from staging events due to the perceived danger of cage fighting.
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However, White stressed the importance and safety of the octagon in his ongoing campaign to tap into Melbourne and Brisbane.
''It's an education process. From what I'm hearing, it's about the cage, and what's funny about that is that the cage is there for safety,'' he said yesterday. ''Because of the wrestling, the guys can do takedowns. Dozens and dozens of people have been injured fighting in rings. The cage is there for safety.''
Australian fighters have joined in the backlash against the ban, supporting White's stance on the necessity of the cage for safety.
''I think the politicians down there need to open their eyes,'' Dubbo-born fighter Kyle Noke said.
''The cage is way more safer, it's a lot bigger area, more room for the opponents to move around in and avoid certain strikes. If you're fighting in a certain corner, you can fall through the ropes.
''I've had fights in the ring before, I never fell out personally but I have had an opponent fall out and thankfully he was lucky and didn't get hurt.''
Melbourne's loss is becoming Sydney's gain, according to the UFC.
The profitable Australian market is receiving increasing attention from the governing body, which expects a crowd of more than 15,000 for the Thiago Alves-Martin Kampmann fight at Olympic Park tomorrow night. Of that number, half will have flown in from either Victoria or Queensland.
The rise in the popularity of mixed martial arts in Australia has the UFC aiming to establish it as the dominant participation sport in the nation. White hopes that the potential to earn millions of dollars will attract athletes from other sports.
''We're going to find tons [of new Australian fighters], the key to this is how big and how popular it is, and more importantly how much money you can make.'' he said.
''The fact that we have a lot more money involved now, I think you're going to see a lot of athletes that were going to play rugby or Australian rules now becoming mixed martial artists.''
Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/spor...#ixzz1nucq4Ce0