Europe has seen an increase in the popularity of mixed martial arts over the last few years with the UFC and #Bellator both hosting international events on the continent. However, it appears that not all countries are fans.
With the majority of countries viewing MMA as a legitimate sport, both France and Norway have yet to acknowledge mixed martial arts. The French have gone one step further, recently strengthening their regulations on combat sports.
A recent press release from the French Sports Ministry states that "fights will take place on a carpet or in a ring with three or four ropes. The corners of the ring will be protected," effectively outlawing the use of a cage for MMA bouts.
Several techniques integral to mixed martial arts have also been the outlawed, including:
"Punches, kicks or strikes with the knees against a fighter on the ground; any strike with the elbow; headbutts; blows to the genitals, the spine, the back of the head or the throat; putting the fingers in the eyes, mouth or nose.
"Pulling the hair; biting; throwing (the opponent) intentionally onto the head or neck; throwing the opponent out of the ring."
In effect, France has banned MMA, which is bad news for French fans, and the country's native talent alike.
A native Parisian, current #BAMMA Featherweight Champion #TomDuquesnoy, who also holds the promotion's bantamweight title, has left France altogether to pursue his MMA career. Training at Albuquerque, New Mexico's Jackson-Wink MMA, Duquesnoy has become a staple of the #EuropeanMMA scene, taking bouts in England, Germany, Belgium, and Finland.
Duquesnoy will make his debut in Ireland on December 19, taking on Alan Philpott in the main event of BAMMA 27, which is being promoted in conjunction with #Bellator169: King Mo vs. Ishii.
Another French fighter, Pierre Daguzan, has left Europe completely behind, opting to pursue an MMA career in India, China, and the US.
Currently training in Hawaii with Max Holloway, Lowen Tynanes, Louis Smolka, Russell Doane, and Yancy Medeiros, Daguzan, who fights at featherweight, believes that the French MMA ban has just as much to do with a rift between the national judo federation and the CFMMA, the national mixed martial arts federation.
"I think it's crazy that they banned it like that for no real reason," commented Daguzan. "The problem is that the judo federation is doing everything they can to lobby against MMA because they are afraid to lose lot of of their licenses."
The CFMMA has been hard at work lobbying to legalize the sport, and have announced that they will seek to challenge the new laws put in place by the French Sports Ministry. The only hindrance is CFMMA has yet to be recognized by the country of France, and therefore does not qualify as a regular combat sport.
The recent news will come as an added blow for those hoping to legalize MMA in France, as this past September, the AFP posted that a parliamentary report commissioned by Prime Minister Manuel Valls would propose the establishment of a provisional authority for the sport.
The notion to deny legalization of the sport is an increasingly unpopular one. According to the IMMAF, the number of MMA practitioners in France is said to be around 30,000 to 50,000, supervised by professors of judo, karate, boxing, or by individuals with no qualifications. Legalization would pay immediate dividends in the practice, safety, and development of talent.
Hopefully, France will not have to watch its MMA fighters like Duquesnoy and Daguzan look to foreign countries to flourish in their sport for much longer.
Additional reporting by Dan Shapiro