A FIANNA FÁIL Senator has defended the Ultimate Fighting Championship, after a fellow Seanad member called for UFC fights to be banned in Ireland.
Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone had described Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as “ultra violent” and “awful”, before admitting that she had “jumped the gun” on the issue.
Today, Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power, who boxes in her spare time, described UFC and MMA as “incredible” sports.
Speaking on the Tubridy Show on 2fm, Power said people should be “incredibly proud” of Irish fighters such as Conor McGregor and Aisling Daly.
“I’m a big fan of MMA and UFC,” she said.
Power likened criticism of the sport to that which once surrounded women’s boxing, before Katie Taylor brought it to the masses.
“I think Katie has massively changed the perception of the sport, obviously by excelling at it, by doing so incredibly well … She’s such a nice lady.”
People have this idea that boxing is just about aggression and violence and it’s not. It’s the opposite, it’s all about discipline and control and not losing the head.You take the blow but then you’re thinking strategically, you’re being rational. It’s about defence as much as it’s about offence.
Power said people should watch MMA before criticising it, as many of its vocal opponents “don’t know anything about the sport”.
“If you haven’t seen it, watch it and then you can say anything you like about it, but watch it first.”
She said the sport is highly regulated and has a very low rate of injuries, adding that participants are “trained to highest level, they know how to protect themselves”.
“It’s actually far safer than many other sports, it’s really well-regulated, there’s tonnes of rules about no head butts, no gouging, certain kicks are forbidden.”
Noone received online abuse after her initial comments, including a rape threat.
Power said this was unacceptable, noting that she had also received a rape threat when her motion to recognise Palestine as an independent state was passed.
She said she enjoyed getting into the ring “when I’ve finished the verbal sparring inside of the Seanad”.
If I can work off my frustration in the gym it makes it easier to be nice the rest of the time.
When asked by Ryan Tubridy who she’d like to fight, Power joked that she might have to challenge Noone: ”I hear that’s she’s saying now that’s she’s willing to be educated and learn more about the sport.”