At this time a year ago, Mixed Martial Arts cage fighting had not yet made its debut in Pennsylvania.
By the time 2009 was over, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission had sanctioned 31 MMA cards; almost as many as the professional boxing cards (33) it has supervised for years.
In less than a year, cage fights have bypassed boxing and appear to have the momentum to keep right on going.
When Pa. Cage Fight 4, the fourth area event produced by Northeast Mixed Martial Arts partners Maury Nehme and Chris Coyne, was held March 26 at the Lackawanna College Student Center, it was the 14th such card in Pennsylvania this year. Athletic Commission executive director Greg Sirb says he state has sanctioned just eight boxing cards this season.
Sirb, who has also been active on national boxing issues throughout his career, said he could see MMA coming. Around the country, the same commissions that have overseen boxing have been responsible for Mixed Martial Arts events, so he knew his staff would ultimately have to become more versatile.
“That’s the standard,” Sirb said. “Every state’s done it the same way.
“We have different referees, but much of the crew of the same as for boxing.”
Sirb said the latest card had “almost 1,300” paying customers. He said boxing and MMA cards are drawing similar crowds at this point but the MMA cards are becoming more frequent with no let up in sight.
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