The mixed martial arts bill drew mixed opinions Tuesday from fighters, boxers, doctors and referees.
The Senate Government Organization Committee heard testimony for and against House Bill 2562, which dissolves and reconfigures the state Athletic Commission under the auspices of the Lottery Commission, and adds professional and amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) to the commission's oversight of other contact sports: Professional boxing and semipro events, such as Tough Man contests.
Proponents dwelled on the economic and character-building aspects of mixed martial arts (MMA), and emphasized how proper Regulation keeps it safe. MMA is sanctioned in all but four states, including West Virginia, they said, meaning West Virginia dollars aren't staying here when residents leave to attend events.
Opponents focused on the poundings participants suffer, and said the lead MMA promoter, Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a Las Vegas Enterprise seeking to extend its empire to West Virginia.
All told, 19 people spoke on the bill: 14 for it, five against.
"The most dangerous sport in the world is cheerleading. That's a proven fact," said proponent C.T. King, a boxer and martial arts instructor.
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