LONDON (Reuters) - The British Medical Association has called for a ban on mixed martial arts competitions, including "ultimate fighting", on the grounds they can cause traumatic brain injury.
In a report on Wednesday, the BMA extended its long-standing call for a ban on both amateur and professional boxing to all mixed martial arts (MMA) events -- which include ultimate fighting and cage fighting.
The call comes as London's O2 arena gears up to host an ultimate fighting event on Saturday, following sell-out shows in Manchester and Belfast last year.
Ultimate fighting is billed as a form of mixed martial arts fighting that uses striking, grappling and ground fighting.
The BMA's Head of Ethics and Science, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, said MMA competitions do not qualify as sports.
"Ultimate fighting can be extremely brutal and has been described as ‘human cockfighting,'" she said. "It can cause traumatic brain injury, joint injuries and fractures."
It was the responsibility of a civilised society to actively campaign against ultimate fighting, she added.
"Large amounts of money can be earned by participants, promoters and others linked to ultimate fighting but no amount of money can compensate for permanent brain damage and premature death."
The official Ultimate Fighting Championships' Web site, is keen to stress the importance of competitors' safety.
"UFC competitors or ‘Ultimate Fighters' are among the best-trained and conditioned athletes in the world," it states.
"While this is a highly intense sport, fighter safety is of paramount concern to UFC ownership and management: it is noteworthy that no competitor has ever been seriously injured in a UFC event."