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BAMMA postpones event to implement mandatory MRI scans for fighters

Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

The death of Joao Carvalho is having a marked effect on mixed martial arts in Europe.

BAMMA is the latest organization to make a major change for fighter safety following the tragic passing of Carvalho after a bout in Ireland last month. The British promotion announced Tuesday that it would be pushing back its June event to properly implement a new MRI/MRA testing procedure.

Beginning after the event this weekend, BAMMA fighters will be required to have an MRI/MRA scan, according to a press release. Because that system will take months to put into place, BAMMA will be pushing back its BAMMA 26 card from June 4 to Sept. 10. The event will remain in Dublin, the city where it was initially scheduled. All tickets will be honored and refunds are also available, the release said.

"In order to be certain that we can implement these new scans across all fighters, we have taken the decision to move the event back a few months," BAMMA CEO David Green said in a statement. "We do not take this decision lightly and apologize for the inconvenience to BAMMA fans."

BAMMA is making these changes after consulting with Dr. Dan Healy, a neurologist at Beaumont Hospital.

"These measures make MMA safer; a Rubicon moment," Healy said in the release. "BAMMA have set a new standard that I encourage others to follow. We must all work together on this."

Unlike in the United States, there are no true athletic commissions in Europe that regulate and oversee MMA and boxing events. BAMMA does use what is called the Safe MMA standard in Europe, which consists of having qualified medical staff on site; an equipped emergency treatment center at the area; ambulances on standby; and pre- and post-fight checks on fighters by doctors.

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), a third-party regulatory body based in Sweden, is setting out to make standards consistent across the world. IMMAF, which focuses mainly on amateur MMA, is also a partner of the UFC.

"We commend and support this proactive decision that BAMMA has taken in the interests of athlete safety," IMMAF CEO Densign White said. "Choosing to put safety before profit is unusual. In engaging with IMMAF's medical committee lead, with national federations in Ireland and the UK and with their medical advisory Safe MMA, BAMMA sets a good example for the rest of the industry to follow. This kind of cooperation and partnership in event management is precisely what's needed to move the sport of MMA forward."

BAMMA 26 next month would have featured a main event between Ultimate Fighter alum Chris Fields and undefeated Scottish prospect Paul Craig. The event was scheduled for the 3Arena.

In the U.S., commissions in Nevada and California are taking things to the next level with regard to brain scanning for fighters. In the coming months, both states will be implementing fully functioning concussion management systems.

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