As ultimate fighting safety and lack of regulation is scrutinized, Brainerd ultimate fighter Brock Larson agrees with many of the criticisms.
But he's attempting to do something to help the sport become regulated and more accepted.
Shows have been banned or restricted in Red Wing, Willmar, West St. Paul, Fridley and Spring Lake Park.
Larson, other fighters, promoters and trainers, plan to meet this week to discuss the possibility of establishing a body that would regulate the sport. Possible regulations might include having doctors at shows, having certified weigh-ins and weight classes and certifying referees and judges. Larson concedes the sport is probably a year away from being regulated.
His group hopes to eliminate mismatches, where one fighter might weigh considerably more than another or where one is a veteran against a rookie.
Brock Larson plans to meet with others about establishing a regulatory body
"Some (promoters) come in, throw a quick show and make some quick money," Larson said. "That ruins the reputation for guys who work their butts off to put on a respectable show."
Much of the public's perception about ultimate fighting is that it is nothing more than street brawling. It currently has no sanctioning body. It does not fall under the auspices of the recently revived Minnesota Boxing Commission.
Ultimate fighting, a combination of mixed martial arts and wrestling, does not permit striking to the groin and gouging of eyes, ears, etc. Fighters compete in a caged ring with timed rounds. They can punch, kick, use submission holds and martial arts moves. They wear open-ended gloves that cover the knuckles.
Larson believes many people don't like the sport because they don't understand it. He believes it's safer than boxing, where a fighter can get up and continue. Ultimate fighting matches usually consist of three rounds and continue until stopped by the referee or until one fighter concedes.
Like boxing, there is the potential for cuts, blood and injury.
"Usually, people hear about it and just think it's brutal," Larson said. "They think it's a bunch of guys barroom brawling but no one has a valid excuse why they don't like it. I guess they think it's wrong morally."
Larson has promoted five Cage Fighting Extreme shows at Brainerd Area Civic Center. A portion of the proceeds has funded a scholarship and been donated to area youth athletics programs.
Each year Larson has approached the city council to obtain a license for his show, which he is not required to do.
"I'm the only person that does that, out of all the promoters," he said. "I get a boxing license but it's not a boxing event. We're not under the boxing commission but I do it to make everybody happy. It's worth the $25 to do that."
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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