Effective today, March 1, 2013, Western Australia becomes the second state alongside Victoria to ban mixed martial arts fighting in a cage in Australia.
First announced in January, the decision was handed down by Sport Minister Terry Waldron and WA Premier Colin Barnett, who has denounced the cage for projecting a negative image.
“I think that the cage adds to sort-of a, almost a gladiator environment, that sort-of specter of watching what can turn into, or a perception of, a violent contest between two athletes,” Barnett told Paul Murray of 882 6PR Radio on January 24.
Following the interview with Barnett, UFC Director of Operations Tom Wright spoke with Paul Murray the next day about the issues plaguing WA’s now-effective cage ban. Athletes and officials’ safety was the main concern, as Wright made note of how, unlike boxing, MMA is a sport where the fight is not always going to stay standing. In addition, Wright mentioned that the Octagon was “specifically designed to ensure that the athletes are kept safe” unlike the ring famously used by the now-defunct PRIDE organization and currently utilized by DREAM.
The UFC had previously been interested in holding an event in the Perth Arena, which now seems unlikely. Having previously filled the Allphones Arena (formerly the Ace Arena) in Sydney three times for UFC events, a sellout in Perth could do big business for the capital of Western Australia, but Wright continuously reaffirmed his stance on holding a UFC event inside a ring, not a cage.
“We only hold events in a fenced-in enclosure, like our Octagon. So as long as the sport of mixed martial arts is not permitted in that kind of an environment and is only held in a boxing ring, we won’t be coming to Perth,” Wright said.
Although the public has already opposed legislation banning the use of the cage with some even starting a page on Causes.com to lift the ban in Victoria that has garnered over 900 signatures, the immediate-future does not bode well for cage fighting in Western Australia.