The above video is a segment from Saturday’s edition of CBS’ Early Show that discussed the involvement of children in mixed martial arts. UFC president Dana White was a guest during the segment.I was watching the show in my hotel room on Saturday and when they teased it, they made no mention of White. Then the segment came on and they introduced White. My assumption was that White would come out and blast parents who allow their children to be involved with MMA fights.
Wow, was I wrong. White pretty much endorsed the idea.
How can anyone with a child endorse kids fighting? I’m not talking about having your kids training in MMA and learning technique. I’m talking about allowing them to fight.
The video below contains footage of kids fighting in a cage in Missouri and I think it’s pretty disgusting. I have an eight-year old son who trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on a daily basis. I’ve also let him do some boxing training as well as Karate. The idea is that he learns self-defense technique, discipline, and self-confidence. The idea is not for him to become a professional fighter. If that’s the route he wants to take in life, that’ll be his choice.
My preference is that he gets an education and studies martial arts as a hobby. It’s not that I don’t respect people who fight professionally — quite the contrary. But I know making a full-time career as a fighter isn’t easy. There’s a lot of talented fighters out there who are making no money at this. I also know the toll that the training can take on one’s body. Having a long-term career is a fighter is hardly a given. And there’s no pension plan in MMA. If you can no longer compete as a fighter, you better either have a big savings account or another career that you can pursue.
My preference also is that is that if my son does decide to become a fighter, he doesn’t start taking fights until he’s 18. I’ve allowed him to do point sparring and a grappling tournament but the idea of allowing him to take punches to the head seems like a highly irresponsible thing to do. White points out that the kids in the video are wearing safety equipment. So what!? As a former boxer, he should know that headgear only helps so much. If someone hits you with a good shot, you still feel it. And taking repeated shots? Don’t even get me started.
The last thing I’d ever want for my son or any other child is for them to be punch drunk by the time they are 16. Dana says people just don’t understand the sport and that it’s no different than Kung Fu or Karate. Well, I’ve taken both and I can tell you there’s a big difference between point sparring with no contact to the head and a fight where contact to the head is illegal as well as submissions. And amateur boxing? Again, so what. I’d never let my son compete as a boxer before he’s legally an adult. To put your child in a position where they are taking repeated blows to the head while their brain chemistry is still developing should be grounds for child abuse.
It should be illegal for anyone under the 18 to compete in a mixed martial arts fight. If someone is 16 and they are emancipated, there should be an exception made because they are legally an adult and should be allowed to decide what’s best for themselves. But under no other circumstance should a minor fight MMA. If they want to train and learn technique — I’m all for it. But what is the point in having kids fight? It seems like the Little League syndrome where a bunch of failed athletes force their kids to play a sport in hopes of living vicariously through them. And before you point the finger at me, my son asked to take BJJ because he saw my wife and I do it. I’ve never pushed him towards it and the day he wants to stop, he can stop. But with parents who allow kids to compete in MMA matches, it just reeks of some guy who loves to watch the UFC and wants to be a fighter but is too old so he’s pushing his kid to do it. And if you happen to be a parent with a child that you allow to fight, shame on you.
Kids training in martial arts? Great idea! But kids fighting in MMA is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and for White to actually get on national television and support it is a complete joke.