Professional Bantamweight competitor Craig Powell was expected to feature on the card of Cage Warriors 81 this past weekend, but was withdrawn from the bout on the day of competition following a potentially life saving pre-fight brain scan implemented by the promoter as a mandatory safety procedure.
Dublin’s 3Arena hosted Cage Warriors’ return to Ireland on Saturday, March 4, and Powell was pulled from the card on the day of competition following brain scan results that revealed a cyst larger than a golf ball. In everyday life the cyst can be deemed as relatively harmless, but can be fatal, causing the brain to bleed if ruptured due to a blow in competition or sparring. The results were flagged by independent medical advisory body Safe MMA Ireland. The 32-year-old was informed that he can never again compete or spar.
In late 2016 Safe MMA Ireland, the regional arm of volunteer medical advisory body Safe MMA, secured a price of €150/£125 for preclearance MRI brain scans for amateur MMA fighters. The advisory medical body recommended that a one-off scan be mandatory for all competitors on regulated events and the recommendation was accepted by the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA), Ireland’s national governing body under IMMAF. Graham Boylan and the Cage Warriors promotion have maintained the example and since November of last year introduced mandatory scans for all signed professionals ahead of competition. The decision of IMMAA and Safe MMA Ireland was met with a degree of backlash based on cost, despite efforts to source the cheapest service possible via the Bon Secours Hospital in Glasnevin, Dublin.
However, the potentially life saving withdrawal of Powell serves as yet another example, reiterating that such effective safety precautions cannot be criticised because of cost. British MMA promoter, respected veteran and coach Jack Mason posted the following statement on social media following the withdrawal of his student:
“So Safe MMA in Ireland (and on CWFC & BAMMA in the UK) now implements mandatory MRI & MRA scans for Pros and MRI scans for Amateur fighters in order to compete in MMA events. This was a direct reaction to the death of a fighter in Ireland on an event.
“Now the cost to the athlete is high, between £400-£600 for MRI & MRA, £25-£50 eye tests, £65 blood tests, £75 annual medical and £135 for 12 months registration so that’s about £700 minimum in total for a Professional fighter to be Safe MMA approved. For Amateurs its cheaper than this.
“An MMA fighter in the UK may make upwards of £300+ purse per fight so you’d need to fight 3 times per year to cover the cost and because of this reason a lot of fighters are against this and choose to fight on other shows without these safety measures in place. For our event BCMMA we have previously implemented SAFE MMA procedures but without the new brain scan protocol.
“Let me ask you this, is your life worth more than £700? MMA is a tough sport as it is but why would you take the extra risk of catching HIV or being seriously or fatally injured in the cage if you had an issue with your brain and you fought without knowing this?
“My good friend and student Craig Powell was due to realise one of his dreams last night by making his Cage Warriors debut in Dublin. This was a milestone and goal for Craig and one that was within touching distance having weighed in and made his way over to the venue ready to compete…
“He was all set, focused and ready and then the fateful call came. Craig’s brain scan results had come in and shown a reasonable size cyst on the brain. Now for normal people this scan would have not worried the doctor as can generally be harmless and cause no issues in normal day to day life but for an MMA athlete who could take some serious blows to the head this was a red flag as this could cause a brain bleed upon impact. Craig was pulled immediately from the fight and has been told under no circumstances must he even spar with head shots for the rest of his life now. This was a devastating blow for Craig and all the team at BKK Fighters. Not only will he never be able to realise some of his major goals but he’ll also lose out on something that is a lot of fun and has been a huge part of his life for so long. Craig will always be part of the team and we’ll work with him on what’s next on Craig’s MMA journey.
“That being said, what if Craig had fought on different show that didn’t implement the brain scans as part of their safety measures? A hard blow to the head could have been life changing or worse for him and his family. This is definitely food for thought for me as a fighter, coach and promoter.
“This morning I am thankful for the brain scans, also a huge thank you to Cage Warriors and Safe MMA for everything they did.”
By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran]]>