Last year, M-1 Global, Russia's leading MMA promotion best known for its role in Fedor Emelianenko's career, experimented with what have been coloquially referred to as "knight fights," guys in medeival knights' armor fighting each other in a ring with shields and blunt swords. It was the most awesomely stupid thing in MMA last year, and it's on M-1's YouTube channel if you want to see it. Well, M-1 is officially launching M-1 Medeivel, a promotion consiting entirely of knight fights, because of course they are.
Mixed martial arts may still have its detractors as a mainstream sport, but odds are those critics would be even more dismayed by M-1 Medieval, a Russian-based MMA-style combat brand that promotes fights between sword-and-shield-wielding, armor-wearing fighters looking to do battle like it’s 1499.
Like the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s version of the sport, two warriors fight in an enclosed area with a referee present to declare a winner. There are rounds, there are judges, and there are excited fans watching around a fenced-off, multi-sided ring. Unlike UFC, though, the well-armored competitors swing swords with all the gusto of Gregor Clegane — in fact, those helmets don’t seem to offer much protection.
“This is ‘Game of Thrones’ in real life,” touts M-1 Medieval’s Facebook page.
The style of combat raises obvious questions about safety. In the U.S., MMA is regulated in all 50 states, meaning that events must be overseen by a commission and have properly-trained referees and medical care on site. Slamming metal weaponry against a combatant’s skull (even one protected by a helmet) would fall outside the auspices of what any state commission would allow, and for good reason — the head trauma risks are far worse than would be caused by simple gloved fists.