B.C. doctors call for ban after MMA brain injury
The B.C. Medical Association is demanding the province ban all mixed martial arts-type events after a Kamloops man had to undergo emergency brain surgery following a competition.
Mike Boyer won his match at So You Wanna Fight?, an amateur boxing and mixed martial arts competition, on Saturday.
Mixed martial arts (MMA), sometimes also referred to as ultimate fighting, is a combat sport that employs elements of various fighting techniques, including boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
But after the fight, Boyer realized something was wrong.
"I just started getting a really bad headache, like it was out of the ordinary — a lot of pressure on my head, I started feeling really woozy and then it wouldn't go away ... it got worse and worse, and then I threw up."
Boyer eventually blacked out, and was rushed to hospital by paramedics.
"I was told that I had severe bleeding on the brain and that they'd have to go in and drill to relieve the pressure. I was under for six hours," Boyer said. "I have like 70 staples in the side of my head."
In an interview with CBC News before Saturday's event, organizer and promoter Don Arnott defended the safety of the matches.
"In 20 years and over 3,000 matches, have you ever heard of negative thing after any event, where there's been somebody hurt or it's been bad?" he said. "There hasn't been. There's been no bad publicity, there's been no negativism on, it's never happened."
'This sport should be banned'
According to Boyer, organizers told fighters they would be thoroughly examined after every bout — but that didn't happen.
"The first fight they checked my eyes, just kind of sat there with me and then let me go," he said. "And then the second one everyone was coming up congratulating me, so they didn't even really look at me. They were just like, 'Oh yeah, you're fine.'"
Boyer knew he was entering a violent competition, but believes organizers could have taken steps to make the fights safer.
"Anything amateur like that, they should be wearing headgear," he said. "Some dudes got hit pretty hard. I mean, guys were getting knocked ... out. It was brutal."
According to B.C. Medical Association president Dr. Nasir Jetha, Boyer's story illustrates the need for government intervention.
"The purpose of this activity is to inflict harm — to inflict damage. We need stronger legislation. This sport should be banned," Jetha said. "As physicians, we will try and we will try to force stronger legislation that this activity should not occur as a competitive sport. As a commercial sport, this should not be allowed."
Jetha said the province needs to take action to keep the sport from coming to B.C.
As for Boyer, he says he's learned his lesson — and won't be competing in any MMA fights in the future.
"I won't, no. I don't want to put myself through this or my family through it. I could die, right?"
Doctors say it is too early to say whether Boyer will make a full recovery.