Promoter wanted to fake a death in Michigan to force amateur regulation

by David Mayo | source:

An amateur mixed martial arts promoter who advocates state regulation of the sport has a fantasy that he admits is a bit twisted.

“I thought about putting out a press release saying someone died at one of my shows, but we weren’t sure who it was,” Greg Ahrens said. “So, when the state showed up, I would say ‘Yeah, the guy died, but since you don’t require us to keep any paperwork, we don’t know who it was, and his guys just hauled him out of there.’

“Think that would get some politicians’ attention?”

The possibility of serious injury or death in an MMA cage already has.

State Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville) is sponsoring Legislation to create a seven-person commission, under the umbrella of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG), to regulate amateur MMA.

Professional MMA already is state-regulated by the same body that regulates pro boxing.

House Bill 4295 also would set standards for licensing, require promoters to provide a minimum level of medical insurance for fighters, set training guidelines for becoming a referee or judge and establish criminal penalties for violators.

“Young people are going to be put at risk,” without regulation, Ahrens said. “And it becomes a matter of not if, but when, somebody will get killed.”

“If nothing happens, nobody has to have a doctor on hand,” promoter Joe Donofrio said. “Nobody pays for an ambulance on hand. Nobody has the correct medical insurance. You know what’s going to happen. Somebody’s going to get killed.”


On any given weekend, there are up to a half-dozen shows operating around the state. They can consist of as few as 10 fights, and as many as 30. They operate in venues ranging from 200 seats to tens of thousands.

All such shows in Michigan have three things in common: The fighters are unpaid; the shows are conducted outside the stricture of any standardized rules, including medical requirements; and promoters have the potential to reap attractive profits.

Ahrens, whose promotions have included successful series at DeltaPlex in Walker and Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, said he made about $500,000 his first year in amateur MMA.

For every one regulated pro MMA show in the state, there are probably 100 unregulated amateur shows, where promoters don’t pay fighters or state regulators.


Rep. Hugh D. Crawford (R-Novi), chairman of the Committee on Regulatory Reform, said he expects the committee to revisit the bill quickly — perhaps as soon as next week — to allow time for revisions before deciding whether to advance it to the House floor

Without regulation, there remains the risk that some promoter — through inaction, indifference or ignorance — could create a dangerous fighting atmosphere, according to Shannon Hale, a licensed pro judge and timekeeper who operates an MMA-devoted website,, and who also testified at last week’s hearing.

“Left to their own devices,” Hale testified, “a lot of people are not going to do the right thing where mixed martial arts is concerned.”

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tags: Legislation   regulation   Michigan   

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Recent Comments »

SUPER HLUK site profile image  

4/18/11 9:40 PM by SUPER HLUK

Shit just got real!Tell me more about him, please.

Freqman site profile image  

4/17/11 6:37 PM by Freqman

That quote is not coming from any concern for fighter safety, it's simply Ahrens getting himself some promotion. MMA would be better off without guys like him.I think requiring insurance for each fighter & medical staff on-site, should be required for ANY MMA event, regardless of whether the fighters are paid.

Evilzpet site profile image  

4/17/11 6:26 PM by Evilzpet

Creating a false crisis for what one feels is an ethical cause. Just like Al Gore's global warming theory without the profit factor.

Jdonw site profile image  

4/17/11 9:50 AM by Jdonw

I find it ironic that Greg Ahrens is a big proponent of regulation in Michigan, but is also well known as the sleaziest promoter in Michigan. His shows just take as many people as will show up with little to no training, and just matches them up by nearest weight regardless of experience. He also put pros on cards before pro fights were legal in the state. He wants licensing only so new promotions won't be able to start up and compete with him. A few of the other shows I know of that struggle to survive against him actually run close to the way it would be regulated.

BanjaCop site profile image  

4/17/11 9:42 AM by BanjaCop

While usually against heavy government regulation this can only help grow the sport. TTT for reffing classes too

dan black site profile image  

4/17/11 9:40 AM by dan black

We have amateur MMA in California but promoters are still using it to help make a big profit.. in-fact I am pretty sure the non-profit that runs it has to be making a profit considering how much it cost for licensing, I heard a promoters license cost around $5,000.. If my guys want to fight under Muay Thai or Boxing rules its either cheap or free, if you want to compete in amateur MMA it cost $115 for a 1-year CAMO license then whatever it cost for blood and physical.. Considering most of my best athletes don't come from money its kind of a no-brainer unless I can get sponsors for them to pay their fees.. I am not a big fan of amateur MMA personally unless its for people under 18, IMO you should compete in the individual disciplines that make up MMA.. the competition is much better and the regulation is usually better too.. When Fedor competes as an amateur (combat sambo) he wears headgear and shin guards.. in most states they just call you an amateur because your not getting paid, yet the ticket prices are usually pretty much the same as a pro-show..

Kirik site profile image  

4/17/11 9:27 AM by Kirik

 The distinction between ammy and pro is an artifact left over from boxing. No one is making money off amateur boxing, it is run by USA Boxing, a non profit. Ammy MMA is making big money for some promoters. I would like to see all MMA regulated.

NightHawkBonedMyPride site profile image  

4/17/11 8:23 AM by NightHawkBonedMyPride

Sad thing is, it's possible it has already happened.