It's a sport known for its no holds barred, anything goes style. Now competitive cage fighting is becoming popular with children. And that has some calling for a ban on the sport for kids. The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports Nathan Orand, who started the youth leagues, is fighting to keep the sport alive. And he says it may be safer than you think.
Known for its kicking, punching and body-slamming, it's mixed martial arts that have taken the hits these days. It's popularly known as cage fighting and it's come under fire for letting kids compete in what can be a bloody sport.
"It's the fastest growing sport in America and naturally with that comes kids. They see their favorite fighters and that's what they want to do. They want to fight just like them," said Orand.
Some Missouri lawmakers say they don't want kids fighting like adult cage fighters. They want to ban youth mixed martial arts. Some say it's brutal and borders on child abuse. Others worry about the impact on young bodies and growing bones.
"I can't say I condone it especially for young people it can be very dangerous to their body structure their growth bones are still developing," said Vicki Pittman, American Taekwondo Association.
Orand, who started the national youth mixed media league, says what he's advocating is much different than adult cage fighting.
"We don't fight in a cage anymore. The adults get to strike on the ground, we've taken that out," said Orand.
They may train like the adults, but Orand insists what these kids do is no different than a number of others martial arts that are more established and accepted.
"These kids already compete in these sports. They already do this," said Orand.
"If you would ban this sport right here you might as well ban the others," said T.J. Aguila.
Aguila's twin 7-year-olds are youth mixed martial arts champions. He says his boys love the sport and they're good at it. And he doesn't know why anyone would want to take that away from them.
The Oklahoma Professional Boxing Commission regulates these activities in the state. They say right now competitive youth mixed martial arts is not allowed. The commission shares the concerns over safety and the pressure the sport puts on joints, like elbows and knees.
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