Lieberberg Up For Ultimate Fight

Staging the country’s first “ultimate fighting” bouts has led to critics of the sport saying he shouldn’t be allowed to continue as a promoter, but Marek Lieberberg believes the sport will be successful in Germany once people understand it better.

He told Pollstar the June 13 extreme sport show at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne will go ahead, despite a battery of criticism in the German media.

“Free fighting is promoting the appeal of brutality presenting it as impressive. This is insane,” said cabaret artist turned sports writer Werner Schnyder in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, prompting Lieberberg to suggest that Schnyder himself may have become a little punch drunk.

“A promoter such as Lieberberg, who participates in something like this, should have his business license taken away,” Schnyder said.

The promoter responded by saying “claims that the UFC glorifies violence and sets a bad example especially for kids contradicts the facts,” adding that none of the complaints about the sport has been backed by facts.

Several TV channels have covered the debate and some local politicians have called for such events to be banned.

Lieberberg said politicians are using the issue to score points in the lead-up to the elections. He contends there is no evidence to suggest that the sport – mixed martial arts fighting that started in the U.S. – is dangerous or causes long-term injuries.

Marshall Zelaznik at Ultimate Fighting Championship, which has staged UFC nights at top U.K. arenas including London O2 and Manchester Evening News Arena, said the company has organised 1,100 fights in 16 years and so far there hasn’t been one serious injury.

Even if the media fuss continues, Zelaznik said the event will go ahead and he’s relishing the opportunity to demonstrate how the fights are no longer a no-holds-barred brawl and have become tightly regulated to prevent the participants from getting injured.