West Australian ‘cage fighting’ ban lifted by Labor government

Mixed martial arts fighters are feeling a sense of sheer relief after the McGowan government lifted the ban on “cage fighting” due to safety reasons on Friday.

The ban, put in place by the Barnett government in 2013, saw the closure of all mixed martial arts fights inside the mesh octagon known as the cage.

But the prohibition was lifted on Friday after boxing rings were deemed too dangerous to hold the bouts.

Locally based fighter Anthony Drillich, who trains at Next Generation MMA Mandurah, said the industry was feeling a sense of relief.

“Fighting in the ring was so dangerous. People would get their limbs caught or there was the danger of falling out so you had always had those hazards in your mind,” he said.

“Some people have negatives thoughts about the cage but in reality it’s just safer and supports everyone much more.”

Cage Warriors lightweight world champion Chris Fishgold, who hails from Liverpool but trains with Drillich in Mandurah, was astonished the first time he saw a fight held in the ring.

“I couldn’t believe it. It’s like if footballers played their game on a soccer pitch,” he said.

“It’s nice for the local guys to be waving goodbye to the ring and to know they’ll have all the safety precautions put in place from now on.”

Cage Warriors  lightweight world champion Chris Fishgold. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Cage Warriors lightweight world champion Chris Fishgold. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

The lift of the ban also opens economic opportunities for the state, which is now able to hold major mixed martial arts events like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The UFC has previously labelled Perth Arena as a possible venue for one of its fight cards, which would likely attract a sellout crowd.

Fishgold believes it would also widen the pathways for young fighters to come through the ranks.

“If a young bloke who is into the sport can go just an hour down the road to watch the top level he might see a fighter and go ‘wow, I want to compete like him’,” he said.

“It just gives the people in the sport something to aspire to and promotes it so much more.”

Next Generation MMA Mandurah will hold a free women’s self defence seminar on Saturday, June 24 along with a program for at-risk youth in Pinjarra over the coming school term.

They are also offering self defence training to emergency response staff such as paramedics.

For more information on the gym call Marcus McKeever on 0498 849 284 or search for their page on Facebook.