West Virginia legislature considers MMA bills

by Stacy Jacobson | source: wvnstv.com
 

Lawmakers in both the state House and Senate are considering bills to legalize Mixed Martial Arts in West Virginia.

Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, and Representative Jeff Eldridge, D-Lincoln, introduced the bills, respectively.

Brandon Horner wants to see the bill pass. He develops his mixed martial arts fighting skills three days a week at the Freestyle MMA Training Center in Fairmont, and aspires to win an MMA amateur title before he turns professional.

"The goals from there just get better and better," he said.

Many people compare MMA to boxing, another fighting sport. Like boxing, MMA bouts play on pay-per-view television and prove popular at live venues. Unlike boxing, MMA is not legal in West Virginia.

Some parties want to keep it that way.

"The problem that I have medically with MMA and I'm most concerned with is the health and well-being of the fighter," said Dr. Allen Saoud, the senior fight phyisician for the state of West Virginia. "In MMA they have something called ground and pound where actually you put the person down on the canvas and then physically take your fist elbow or knees and then beat on him."

Dr. Saoud, who has worked at MMA fights in Ohio, says that while boxers only fight standing up, MMA fighters can apply up to one ton of force when they beat an opponent against the ground. MMA fights are also allowed to use elbows and knees to punch, which poses an exaggerated danger to the opponent, he said.

During MMA bouts in Ohio, he said he's seen this cause serious injuries.

"We really have to be very careful when we allow people to damage the head and spinal column," he said.

The gear also marks a stark difference between boxing and MMA fighting. Boxers use a heavier, more padded glove, whereas MMA fighters use a lighter, more open glove that allows for a stronger fist punch.

But, proponents say there are ways to make MMA safe, just like in any other sport.

"We wear head gear and mouthpieces, and have great trainers that focus on our protection as much as they do on our skills," Horner said. "I don't really have any concerns."

Freestyle owner Rod Michael believes that when his team is forced to travel to other states, West Virginia loses a valuable financial opportunity.

"We stayed in their hotels and ate at their restaurants," Michael said. "That's a lot of money that's going to their states that could be here. And I think MMA is very popular here and I think it could bring a lot of money to the state."

Horner says he just wants to perform more often and closer to home.

"The frequency that we take fights would definitely increase," he said. "We wouldn't have to pool together funds to cram into a hotel room. We could stay local and we could fight local for the fans in our own state."

The bills are both in the introductory phase, according to the legislature's Web site.

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tags: Legislation   Legalization   West Virginia   



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Recent Comments »

FreestyleJJ site profile image  

2/26/10 10:07 AM by FreestyleJJ

WV needs to let more promoters get licenses. I have no interest in promoting, but as a trainer, I'm not sure I'll send anyone to Jerry's shows if he does mma anymore. Last year, I had 2 of my guys put in 6 weeks of training camp to fight on his mma show, and on monday of the week of the fights, he canceled the show because he thought the ticket sales were going to be weak. He could have at least canceled it much earlier and saved my guys 6 weeks of intensive cardio and disappointment. I haven't seen him try to put on an mma show since then, but if he does, I won't recommend it to anyone.That might be fine for guys taking their fights last minute, but anyone who actually puts time into their preparation should avoid fighting on his shows.

Foundation site profile image  

2/19/10 12:42 AM by Foundation

It needs to happen.

Macedawgg site profile image  

2/17/10 12:00 AM by Macedawgg

 TTT for Geoff Varney as well, who has been working towards legalization in West VIrginia for quite a while.

Mark Matheny site profile image  

2/16/10 9:00 PM by Mark Matheny

I am originally from W.Va. (don't tell anyone). Jerry Thomas owns W.Va. Toughman but comes to Ohio to put on MMA shows(good shows too I must say). So I think they are ready for it over there....

SPROUT site profile image  

2/16/10 6:36 PM by SPROUT

I hate WV jokes, dammit. Its all corruption, or stupidity. Boxing is dead in WV, but Toughman and Rough'n'Rowdy pay the commissioners. That and they are old and conservative and see anything new as bad..they'll die soon enough I guess...sigh...SPROUT

Noso site profile image  

2/15/10 8:40 AM by Noso

According to our esteemed athletic commissioner, "Grabbing an opponent around the neck in a choke hold is no way to sport." Plus it may hurt his cut of toughman money.

DrTedDansenstien site profile image  

2/14/10 8:20 PM by DrTedDansenstien

Close. But the true reason is it would kill WV's lucrative bear-baiting industry.J/K. I'm from WV. I hope they can get this shit passed, so I don't have to drive to even shittier places to see my buddies fight.

scottbates site profile image  

2/13/10 10:02 PM by scottbates

The Boxing commission is fighting this because it would kill boxing like it did in so many other states.

Sagiv Lapkin site profile image  

2/13/10 9:15 AM by Sagiv Lapkin

 They have laws in West Virginia?

FreestyleJJ site profile image  

2/13/10 8:55 AM by FreestyleJJ

ttt. I got to go down there with my city councilman from wheeling to help advise him on the meeting a couple of months ago when the ufc legal rep was there giving them a presentation. Seemed positive at the time. Hopefully it goes through.