The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Friday legalizing mixed-martial arts in the state amid objections from lawmakers who believe the sport is too violent.
By Walt Williams
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CHARLESTON -- Legislation legalizing mixed-martial arts cleared a major hurdle Friday when the West Virginia House of Delegates voted 55-37 to pass it and send it to the Senate.
MMA currently is prohibited in West Virginia despite being legal in a majority of states. Critics say it is unsporting and too violent, sometimes comparing it to the gladiatorial combat of ancient Rome.
Several lawmakers also are upset the provision legalizing MMA was amended into a separate bill in committee rather than being brought forward in its own legislation.
Lawmakers held a lengthy debate Thursday about the bill, so Friday's discussion was much shorter. Only Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, spoke out against it, saying that West Virginians had a peaceful nature that resulted in three things: a low crime rate, no capital punishment and a ban on MMA.
"When you vote think of the blood that will flow when this bill passes," he said. "Think of the color red, the color of blood, and vote no."
Wells' appeal wasn't enough to sway a majority of lawmakers, who voted in favor of the bill's passage. It now heads to the Senate.
The bill is is House Bill 2562.
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