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Mma, UFC | Requires legalization in Norway: – Little knowledge to be an opponent

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Mma, UFC |  Requires legalization in Norway: – Little knowledge to be an opponent

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Norway is now among the very few countries in the world that practice a real ban.

Now one of the country’s leading athletes is demanding that changes be made on a political level.

After an impressive victory against Joe Pyfer in Las Vegas last weekend, Norway’s leading athlete Jack Hermansson advocated legalizing the sport in Norway as well.

– Fighting in Norway would be a highlight in my career, and it would be an enormous joy for Norwegian fans to bring UFC to Norway, says Hermansson to Nettavisen.

Read also: UFC top will organize convention in Norway

Banned in Norway and Iran

Hermansson has the support of Liberal Storting politician Grunde Almeland, who believes it is high time that Norwegian MMA athletes are allowed to compete on home soil.

– I think it is nonsense that MMA should not be allowed. The main problem is that there is this special ban for MMA. It is ensured that professional MMA is left out. I think those who are opposed to this appear very uninformed, says Almeland to Nettavisen.

On paper, professional MMA is not illegal in Norway, but the approval board for fighting activities that allow knockouts has so far rejected all applications to organize events on Norwegian soil.

In practice, it is prohibited.

The law on organized fighting that allows knockouts, popularly known as the knockout law, also has limitations, including when it comes to round times.

According to the website GroundedMMA Norway and Iran are now the only countries in the world that ban professional MMA.

The tribunal passes the ball to the politicians

Nettavisen calls the head of the approval committee, lawyer Morten Justad Johnsen.

– Why have you not approved MMA events in Norway?

– The reason is that we have doubts as to whether the activity fulfills the consideration behind the provision, which is to safeguard the athletes’ health and safety. It is justified by the fact that MMA allows choking and other fighting techniques in combination with blows to the head. A precautionary principle therefore dictates refusal, says Justad Johnsen.

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– The question will always be “what will it take for you to approve?”. I understand the question, but cannot give a concrete answer to this. As long as both the tribunal and the appeals board have given a refusal, political work with the regulation should instead be considered, says Johnsen further.

– As the law is designed today, it is unlikely that you will allow professional MMA events in Norway?

– I can’t say that in advance, and it is a combined committee that decides on new applications. So far, applications for approval of the activity MMA have been refused, both by us and by the appeal board, so it has been processed in two instances.

– If credible studies were presented, which show that MMA has a lower injury potential than boxing, is there anything that could change their view?

– It’s a good question I’ve also been asked in the past, but I can’t speculate. The feasible way is for the politicians to look at the regulations, says Johnsen.

Hermansson is puzzled by the rationale for a precautionary principle in the approval committee.

– That would imply that MMA is something new, but it is not. Competitions take place in almost every country in the world, so we know very well that there is no reason to believe that it should be more dangerous for the athletes than other sports that allow knockout, says Hermansson.

– I believe that this is an argument that opponents of the sport come up with to slow down the growth of the MMA sport – not to ensure the athletes’ safety.

Mener Ap dislikes the sport

Left-wing politician Grunde Almeland believes that some parties make unreasonable arguments for maintaining a ban.

– When you look at the way the Labor Party, which sits in the ministerial chair, argues, it is solely about the fact that they just dislike sport, Almeland believes.

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– I have no expectation that the Labor Party will radically change with a new minister, but I hope the new minister is willing to listen to the arguments, he says further.

The Labor Party, the Center Party and SV have previously shown themselves to be opposed to professional MMA in Norway, while the Liberal Party and FRP have been positive.

– There is so much exciting happening in Norwegian MMA every day. I think that our athletes who work so hard in a major international sport deserve that their politicians take them seriously and not just dismiss them, says Almeland.

– Jack shows why he is such a good role model. He is a terrific athlete and a profile that manages to explain this in a good way. I hope more politicians take the time to listen to what he has to say, says Almeland.

The Ministry of Culture responds

Nettavisen has sent several questions to the Ministry of Culture, but has not received an answer from Culture Minister Lubna Jaffery.

In an email, however, State Secretary Erlend Hanstveit is quoted as saying the following:

– MMA has become popular, and I understand that the athletes want to fight here at home, but we have no plans to soften the regulations.

– We know from research that head injuries in particular are a concern that we must take very seriously. Research is also ongoing in several sports, for example football, where we see delayed injuries as a result of repeated headings, and work is being done on what measures can protect the athletes. In this picture, it is also demanding for us as authorities to facilitate sports where punches and kicks to the head are permitted, and thus a significant risk of head injuries, all the while we know too little about the late injuries this can cause for the athletes. The restrictions for sports that allow knockout are about the consideration of the athletes’ health and safety.

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– So it is not politicians or the ministry who decide which individual activists get approval. This is done by an expert committee, based on a regulation with safety regulations that must be met. The regulation is adopted by the government, and the one that applies now was last changed under the bourgeois government in 2016.

UFC top in 2019: – We want to go to Norway

When the UFC circus visited Copenhagen in 2019, UFC top Dave Shaw said that the MMA organization hopes to organize a convention in Norway in the future.

– We will continue to come to Scandinavia as often as we can. I believe that the progress that has been made on the amateur side in Norway paves the way for a potential convention further in the future. Once the structure is in place, we’re ready to get there, Shaw said.

– What can the UFC do for MMA in Norway?

– The first thing we do is recognize the progress that is being made. I think it’s been two months since it came out that amateur MMA would be regulated there. It may take time for professional MMA to become that, but this is a step in the right direction, Shaw said.

He was also clear that the UFC is ready to assist if Norwegian politicians want information about the sport.

– Much of the work the UFC does is independent of what happens politically, but when it comes to what we are trying to achieve, a lot of it is about education. There may be sports politicians who do not fully understand the sport, they may not have been exposed to it.

– We can offer the tools and information they need to make a qualified decision. And that can help structure the sport properly in that region, Shaw said.

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