MMA fraternity cagey about return to ring
Although many athletes, coaches and administrators are eager for the return of sports locally, those from the combat sport fraternity are a bit hesitant about activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport that requires constant close proximity and contact with your opponents. For that reason, local officials say they are waiting to see further development before advising their fighters to return to competition.
Mixed martial artist Matthew ‘Gold Lion’ Colquhoun is dismayed that the pandemic cancelled what he considered a “big opportunity” to compete in Mongolia earlier this year.
“We invested so much in this,” he said. “Putting your body through training, dietary, financially planning and it affected me a lot. I was looking forward to starting off the year right but this coronavirus took the world by surprise.”
Colquhoun said that he expects rigorous precautions to be taken if he is to compete again any time soon, but until then, he accepts that he has to focus on other ventures to make a living.
“I would put my trust in the medical system knowing that if they have strict measures in finding out whether or not the athletes are COVID-19 positive or negative, I would more likely do it,” he said.
“I have a few leagues and promotions that my management has been in communication with. We’re just waiting for this pandemic to get to be under control so that the sport can start back and start having events where people can gather. I hope it’s in the near future, probably not this year. I’m probably just gonna focus on developing myself outside the ring this year.”
MMA Jamaica Sport Federation vice-president Daniel Chacko-Wilmot is also taking a cautious approach. He says that training has stopped but he cannot foresee a situation where a sport that requires much grappling resumes any time soon.
“We just have to wait and see what is happening in society and see what becomes of the testing and the number of cases,” Chacko-Wilmot said. “It’s a really unfortunate situation, especially for the fighters and athletes who have families to look out for and use sports to earn a livelihood.”
Sports medicine expert Dr Akshai Mansingh had recently said it may not be wise to resume sports locally before a COVID-19 vaccine is developed or herd immunity achieved in society. However, given Jamaica’s relatively low case count, he has eased his stance on resumption of sports in the next few months.
“It is a similar sort of protocol if you operate off the premise that the communities that the players are coming from don’t seem to be inundated with the disease,” Mansingh said with regard to Red Stripe Premier League football returning in September. “If there was an outbreak in a particular community, then you may have to look at it. But right now, Jamaica [as] a whole is not overridden by community-spread infections. So one would expect that the Premier League would continue in the same way.”