With new gyms and promotions materializing en masse and MMA business booming, California is attempting to steer the bull by the horns and get the sport on track. Four years into its legalization, there are still loose ends to be addressed, and the CSAC.">California State Athletic Commission is tackling the challenge on numerous fronts.
MMA gyms are now being solicited for a $100 annual licensing fee, a move the CSAC believes will help legitimize gyms and give the state leverage should these facilities hold unregulated events. It is also intended to help aspiring fighters recognize which facilities are state-sanctioned.
“The licensing fee is now mandatory, but we’re not going to say, ‘Hey, you have to pay this or else.’ One of the things we believe it will cut down on are smokers,” CSAC inspector Sarah Waklee said at the commission’s Dec. 2 meeting. “We know people say they can go underground, but we have a lot of people who e-mail us anonymously about smokers. We’re hoping by having gym licenses that the gym will feel more empowered. We know a fighter will feel more empowered if it’s licensed. And there’s a lot more we can help the gym with.”
In early 2011, CSAC officials will begin a statewide push to publicize the licensing drive, with gyms given 60 to 90 days to comply. With licensing, gyms will also be required to report any knockouts which occur during training.
Aspiring fighters are currently required to undergo testing procedures overseen by the CSAC, for both professional matches and those under the state’s officially sanctioned amateur vehicle, the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization.
To compete in CAMO, a fighter must pay a total of $115 in licensing fees, which includes registration, as well as a physical and blood work. Headed by former EliteXC officials Jeremy Lappen and J.T. Steele, CAMO has come under fire from critics over the fees, as well as the fact that all participants are required to wear CAMO-issued rash guards. The CSAC contends the fees are justified in order to fund operating expenses and assorted costs of the amateur program.
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