Call for amateur MMA regulation in Michigan

by Paul L. Newby II | source:

Mixed up on martial arts: Regulations for 'ultimate fighting' should include amateurs as well as pros

State lawmakers want to correct that oversight. Their Legislation would create regulations for amateurs similar to those that currently constrain pros. If we're going to allow mixed martial arts (MMA) in Michigan -- a questionable proposition, given the brutal nature of the sport -- there should at least be basic rules in place to protect the health and well-being of participants. All of them. The bill should be passed.

In 2008, Michigan and other states legalized professional MMA competitions, following a push from Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), the largest MMA organization in the country. However, a growing number of amateur fighters, who mix it up in barns and backyards, avoid these regulations. The absence of comprehensive oversight in a sport that has long touted its on-the-edge style -- now-retired UFC slogan: "There are no rules" -- invites trouble.

MMA competitions involve a kicking-grappling-punching potpourri of punishment that frequently leaves blood on the mat. Participants employ techniques from boxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu and other disciplines to beat the tar out of each other. That's probably why Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, famously called MMA bouts "human cockfighting" and why the sport boasts terms such as "ground and pound" and "hammer-fist."

MMA advocates acknowledge that the sport can be violent, but so are other sports, they say. And while the violence lures, they say, so does the athlete's strength and conditioning and technique. No contact competition is free of risk. The difference between MMA and garden-variety boxing is one of style and degree. In addition, the MMA has seen a gradual tightening of rules as it has gone more mainstream.

However, other contact sports, including amateur boxing, are licensed and regulated as a way to at least attempt to manage the risks. Right now, amateur MMA fighters, hungry to win and not as well-trained as their paid-to-fight compatriots, are at risk.

The bipartisan legislation in the state House, sponsored by Rep. David Agema, R-Grandville, would create a commission under the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth to monitor and regulate amateur MMA matches. Co-sponsors of the legislation include Reps. Roy Schmidt, D-Grand Rapids, Kevin Green, R-Wyoming and Joe Haveman, R-Holland.

Rules similar to those that apply at professional events would be enacted. Only licensed promoters could hold amateur events. A physician would have to be present at fights and fighters would have to undergo a physical including blood tests -- an important provision in a sport where the transmission of blood-born illnesses is a real concern. Fight promoters would have to carry insurance for medical and hospital expenses.

Mixed martial arts may be a brutal and violent activity. But it's apparently in Michigan to stay. If so, everyone -- amateurs included -- should play by some rules, old slogans notwithstanding.

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tags: Legislation   Regualtion   Legalization   Michigan   

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Recent Comments »

Kai Tremeche site profile image  

9/2/10 11:19 AM by Kai Tremeche

I thought so too.

solidsnake site profile image  

9/2/10 10:51 AM by solidsnake

Thought there was a thread on this already. I agree

Voodoo site profile image  

9/2/10 10:06 AM by Voodoo

I think every state should regulate pro and amateur mma. I don't think small regulatory organizations should be involved at all. I am glad to see this happen in Michigan.