Rings. Perfect for MMA.

Every time the UFC goes to Australia they end up in Sydney. Understandable, you might think, considering Sydney is the bestest city in all of Oz. Wrong! Melbourne is where it’s at. It’s friendlier, less touristy, and isn’t infested with flying cockroaches the size of hockey pucks. Unfortunately, there are some pests in their state government stopping the UFC from going there.

In the UFC, bouts are held inside the “Octagon” – an eight-side cage. In Victoria, MMA bouts can be sanctioned if held in a boxing ring, but are not allowed to take place in a cage.

Speaking in Melbourne yesterday during a promotional tour for the Sydney event, the UFC’s Managing Director of International Development Marshall Zelaznik questioned whether the Victorian Government was more concerned about negative perceptions surrounding “cage fighting” than it was about the safety of the fighters themselves.

“The government has authorised that mixed martial arts can take place [in a ring] – the issue seems to be the Octagon,” Mr Zelaznik said.

“The ropes [of a boxing ring] don’t protect the fighters enough … what you always have happen is a fighter will slip through the ropes – hopefully they don’t fall – but we have video that we’ve submitted to the government about how unsafe it is when fighters are actually falling through these ropes and are hurting themselves.

“Obviously we believe the Octagon is the safest place for these events to take place. We’ve had a number of meetings with city officials, a number of meetings with people within the Professional Boxing and Combat Commission [the government’s advisory board], and there seems to be agreement that the cage is a safer place to do it. But for some reason we can’t get it over the line.”

Here’s hoping that video submitted includes footage of the two incidents I’ve included above. They’re from a single event where several people ended up taking tumbles out of the ring, and they’re just a taste of the mayhem witnessed when MMA isn’t in a cage. The ring barely keeps boxers from falling out, and their sport doesn’t involve high velocity double leg power shots into the ropes. Why would a ring design from 150 years ago be considered perfect for a brand new sport?