For the older generation of MMA fans, they will recall the early days where weight classes were open, gloves were not mandatory and head stomps and head buts were thrown with the baddest intentions. In the documentary ‘The Smashing Machine” it follows the career of fallen MMA fighter Mark Kerr who would terrorise and beat opponents senseless until drug addiction and injuries finally ruined his career.

Human cock fighting was probably the best description during that era. There were an abundance of fighters available that would not hesitate gouging their fingers into open wounds, delivering brutal groin shots, and pounding knees to the heads of grounded opponents.  The brutality during that time was ‘bloody real’ and the UFC knew that regulated competition was the only way forward to make MMA a respected professional sport.

After a 44 million dollar investment by the Fertita family, a revolution of MMA had finally arrived with stricter rules and safer regulation governing MMA competition. It wasn’t long before major sponsors and television networks wanted a piece of the advertising revenue pie with millions of MMA fans drawn to this exciting new sport across every continent.

Not everyone however has welcomed the explosion of MMA into the mainstream with some critics calling for the sport to be banned. New ethical issues continue to plague the sport with the most recent incident involving Palhares and his failure to quickly release a submission hold.

The actions of Palhares showcased one of the most reprehensible actions we may have witnessed inside the octagon outside of Paul Daley’s cheap shot on Josh Koscheck.  Despite the commendable resolution to ban Palhares for life by UFC president Dana White, the critics of the sport had clearly won another round.

Another serious issue that is discrediting the sport is the actions of fighters who continue to strike unconscious opponents. Whether you are a fan of Michael Bisping or not, a fighter that gets knocked out cold does not deserve further damage inflicted while in a comatose state. It is an ugly part of MMA that needs reform.

Unfortunately in MMA not all is perfect, and nor should we expect that it ever will be. However, the sport must always strive to evolve and stop at nothing to improve the safety and health of  fighters.

As readers, how do you feel about the current safety of the athletes? Are there still gaping holes in the overall safety of fighters competing? What would you like to see improved?