Rash guards cause of controversy on day 1 in Las Vegas


Team Canada member Colton Cronkite tries out what is supposed to be an “XL” rash guard shirt. Photo by Buckley Smith.

Las Vegas–While the IMMAF MMA World Championships have officially begun, no fights have occurred yet, and somehow there is already trouble brewing.

Roughly two weeks before the tournament the participating teams were informed that they would all have to wear rash guards (essentially an extremely tight shirt) despite most of them never having fought in such attire.

The governing body in charge listed a range of reasons, stretching from diversification of pro and amateur to gender equality, but it seems quite obvious to everyone involved why it was truly done: money.

A member of the company in charge of supplying the equipment, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said, “It is basically there so the people involved can profit more.”

And this reason seems quite apparent to CCA (Canadian Combat Alliance) President Bill Mahood.

“It’s stupid. It is a way of exploiting the sponsors,” said Mahood.”It is just a way of making more money.”

And while the release given to the teams seems to state rational reasons, such as imitating how boxing diversifies between amateur athletes and professional athletes through the equipment they must wear, as well as attempting to maintain gender equality as female fighters are already mandated to wear rash guards, the reasons involved don’t seem to matter to the fighters.

What really matters to them is how it could impact their fights.

As many of them have never fought wearing them, how it could change the style of the fight seemed to be a very prevalent fear.

“It’s weird, I have never had to wear one before,” said Team Canada fighter John Nguyen.”Grapplers are going to like it because it will keep the sweat off (increasing the traction they can get on their opponents), and it could give them something to grab onto.”

And while it seems this change could give an advantage to certain styled fighters, it could go even further by giving certain countries an advantage over others.

Kajan Johnson, a UFC fighter and former Ultimate Fighter champion, thought this could give an unfair advantage to the North American teams (an odd thing to admit seeing as he is at the tournament as a coach for Team Canada, so clearly it is quite an issue if he is willing to admit to that).

“It may give North America an advantage because generally we are better grapplers than most of the European countries (with the exception of the more Eastern countries where wrestling is a big-time sport),” said Johnson. “But we’ll see.”

There is nothing the fighters can do about it, despite their very open objections. As they say: “Them’s the rules.”

So with the rash guards in place, the possible unfair advantages and shady reasoning are irrelevant, and as Johnson said: “We will see.”




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