"Professional boxers are not allowed to be involved in mixed martial arts", said Loyiso Mtya, of the South African boxing commission, when he banned a regional champ from returning to 'the sweet science' after having 3 bouts at the country's top MMA organization, Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC).
Irshaad Sayed is a two-sport athlete having claimed titles in both Muay Thai and MMA, and the South African star spoke about the recent statements made by Mtya, not allowing that cross-over between combat sports.
"As an active athlete, I will definitely have a biased opinion, but I think it's good for both sports to have athletes competing in multiple disciplines," Sayed told BloodyElbow.com, "MMA is a growing sport and it's good that high level boxing athletes join various MMA promotions. It's also good in reverse. In many ways, people are losing interest in boxing and having MMA athletes fight boxing brings some hype with it."
The RUFF champion and EFC contender did state though, that he gets the motives of the boxing commission.
"I can understand his decision. An MMA promoter wouldn't want their athletes competing in boxing either, because they might get injured. I know a boxing commission and an MMA promotion isn't the same thing, but I think they have the same worries in mind, and that worry is simply, an injured athlete," he said, "I don't think it will have any major affect on fighters in South Africa, things will just proceed as usual."
"The MMA scene is growing rapidly in South Africa just as it's growing rapidly worldwide. There is definitely room for improvement in terms of having a commission, but it needs to be done in the correct manner and with the right objectives in mind."
Loyiso Mtya also gave out criticism about MMA to claim that boxing is safer, saying "gloves are too small. They use elbows, they kick and when a guy is down, they do not stop for a count. Instead, a guy is hit when he is down."
"He obviously seems uneducated on the topic," Sayed says, responding to Mtya, "He's making claims but isn't backing it up with any solid evidence. If you fought 10 pro boxing fights, I feel you would take much more head trauma than if you fought 10 MMA fights."
Irshaad is a former Muay Thai champ and is currently 8-2 in his MMA career, with his only losses coming from close decisions to UFC fighter Jumabieke Tuerxun. He's on a 5-fight win streak, and the Evolve MMA product is being linked to a future bout against two-division EFC champ Demarte Pena (9-0).
"My next fight should be in November, back home in Cape Town. At this point I'm not sure who my opponent will be, but I think it's just a matter of time before I cross paths with Pena."