Sound Off: Proper Security


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Author: Drew Ratichek

Title: Proper Security

What’s on their mind:

This is my soap box for the next couple of minutes of your life. We have all seen and heard about the controversy regarding “incidents” that occur at local Houston MMA shows and we have all heard about the complaints and we have all seen the finger pointing and the fallout. I now propose we take steps as a community to rid ourselves of these types of incidents.

Rather than try and figure out who or what camp is responsible I see another issue to address that I believe would diminish the occurrences of these by a substantial amount, enough that we could largely wipe the stigma of this type of bad press and spoiled relations, off of our reputation. What we need is competent security for these events.

Logistically speaking I know that some venues are more difficult to secure but I have seen a fundamental lack of training in the security that is employed at these events. Many of the security guards are missing the development of problems that could be eliminated much earlier and prevent the physical altercations from ever occurring. Security guards are watching the fights and staring around and really have no control over the crowd and that is the root of this issue. When any of us attend a Texans game it is crowd control that prevents major problems in the stands. We know that if we throw beer or trash at others or stand up and cuss them and incite problems someone will come down and take us out. Problem solved. However I have seen many times at many different promotions, the lack of crowd control and so the expectations are not set properly and people expect to get away with this kind of thing. On Friday I had a personal example that is demonstrative of what has become typical across the board. I had friends who attended to cheer on a fighter from American Combative Systems and these people were repeatedly verbally assaulted, had beer thrown on them and were then physically bumped. The situation caused 2 of them to leave due to the racial slurs that were being thrown at them and I ended up sending a couple of our ammy fighters to basically patrol the situation. The security guards in the area were busy watching the fights, by the way. This is a simple matter of education and training. The people who I referenced are first timers to MMA events and are professionals and were only singled out due to the fact that they were Hispanic.

I have worked security, lead security teams, handled personal security and worked with some top level guys in the field. What we are missing is active security to set expectations and prevent the escalation of these incidents. When beer is thrown for the first time the individuals who throw it would be gone immediately and with absolutely no options. Without boring you anymore than I have already I can say that I have seen the flaws in the security and feel confident that with 60 minutes of training prior to an event I or any security professional who understands crowd control could eliminate 80% of the issues. That is all that is required.

Saturday night I again saw security guards who were outmatched and did not know how to properly break up a fight. They grabbed the closest combatant and tried to stop the influx of new people but the actual issue was not handled. The fight grew and the result was innocent people were knocked down and one security guard who appeared overwhelmed actually reached for his gun!! I yelled at him and moved in to help at that point. They were unable to recognize the catalyst and address the route issue to solve the problem. These are training issues and not always man power issues. Being equipped with guns and licensed to carry does NOT make a security guard competent. In fact it could potentially make a bad situation worse.

Let’s not cast stones any more but look at what could be a positive way to end most of this. I am willing to put my money where my mouth is and reach out to any and all promoters who have questions regarding this, free of charge of course, to help right the ship. I will also be looking for local persons involved in the MMA community to step up and be participants in correcting this situation. As Houston grows into a big scene and walks down the road paved by guys like Saul Soliz and now the staff of lets all do our part to give our fighters the platform they deserve and eliminate these problems.

Here is a starting point for what I ask:

1. That reputable and controlled persons in the MMA community be willing to volunteer to work at local MMA events free of charge.

2. Promoters provide entrance for free for these persons in exchange for their services.

3. Those who volunteer will stand at the back of spectator sections and work as spotters for trouble incidents while getting free pass for the fights.

4. When ANY issues START to evolve they address them immediately with words only and inform the persons in question they are being watched and will be throw out if ANY more happens.

5. If words and throwing of objects continues of people are still rowdy and inciting issues then either a) two persons escort the individual out or b) uniformed police officer is informed and will escort them out.

6. Promoters must use uniformed police, even if it’s sparing numbers, to respond to spotters issues.

Guys, most of these issues are preventable but are allowed to continue for such a long period of time that they become far more than they ever needed to be. The logistics of who to use, how to train and what type of enforcement could be reasonable expected to work are things I have already worked through. The details I will share with promoters if they are interested.

I ask anyone who has ideas to contribute or wants to volunteer to be vocal and let’s start working forward and stop looking behind us at what has happened. We have too many places to go with Houston MMA to worry about the bridges we’ve already crossed. Let’s learn and move on.