MMA has effectively been banned in France
Mixed martial arts has effectively been banned in France under new regulations on combat sports.
The sport, which has grown in popularity via the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), finds itself in breach of several clauses in a new report published by the French Sports Ministry.
MMA is not mentioned by name but the sport's national federation, the CFMMA, has promised a legal challenge to the decision.
In a press release headed "Decree relating to technical regulations and security for public combat sport events", the sports ministry lays out several rules governing such events.
The octagonal cage used for MMA bouts would be prohibited by a clause which states: "Fights will take place on a carpet or in a ring with three or four ropes. The corners of the ring will be protected."
The report goes on to outlaw several of the techniques integral to MMA.
It states: "The following techniques are strictly outlawed and will lead to immediate disqualification:
"Punches, kicks or strikes with the knees against a fighter on the ground; any strike with the elbow; headbutts; blows to the genitals, the spine, the back of the head or the throat; putting the fingers in the eyes, mouth or nose; pulling the hair; biting; throwing (the opponent) intentionally onto the head or neck; throwing the opponent out of the ring."
Combat sports must also be affiliated to a federation recognised by the state, and the CFMMA does not hold such status. The CFMMA's official website has carried since April 2015 a petition calling for MMA to be recognised by the state.
The release prompted an angry response from CFMMA president Bertrand Amoussou.
"It's amazing given the timing and it is disrespectful," he told L'Express.
"The Ministry takes us for idiots. All countries have recognised MMA in Europe. except France and Norway.
"I hoped it would not come to this but the CFMMA will launch a legal action to contest this decree."