In 2016, Lebanon experienced one of its biggest MMA/sporting events ever to hit the country. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is widely considered to be the fastest-growing sport around the world, and more so, in the Middle East. But in one Arab country, Lebanon, MMA is now illegal and will likely remain so until further action is taken from the MMA community. A decree from the Lebanese Sports Ministry outlawed both the octagon cage used in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the practice of this sport and its techniques.
In a report released today titled, “The minister of sports bans Mixed Martial Arts,” the Lebanese Sports Ministry laid out a series of guidelines and prohibitions that would make the presentation of the sport nearly impossible. The new regulations scrap the decree issued in 2012 by which the sport was recognized as legal and added to the list of authorized sports activities in Lebanon.
The Ministry also used the document to continue its long, bizarre war against cages and MMA events. Under the new guidelines, in-cage events or events held under MMA rules or similar are prohibited in the country, subject to legal penalties.
Most likely, reasons ranging from the inherent violence of MMA to the politics of business have lead to this decision.
Mixed Martial Arts is one of the few sports in Lebanon that bred a strain of spectacular talents that made noise regionally and internationally. It’s now up to the MMA officials, fighters, and fans to come together and fight an uphill battle for acceptance in Lebanon’s mainstream sports scene.