Michigan is one of 13 states that allow amateur MMA but do not regulate it.
The state has so egregiously failed to adequately the regulate amateurs that the Association of Boxing Commissions last year took the unprecedented step of asking the member commissions to bar amateur Michigan fighters, or those who have recently competed in Michigan.
Safety in Michigan is left solely in the hands of for-profit promoters. While some responsible, pre-fight screenings are generally minimal or non-existent, there are no tests for AIDS or Hepatitis, fighters under 18 can compete, there are multiple fights in one night, no ringside physician is required, or even an ambulance, and more.
The cesspool of MMA came to a head when on April 6, Felix Elochukwu Nchikwo, a 35-year-old Nigerian living in Hamilton, Ontario on a student visa died following his participation in an unregulated amateur MMA bout in Michigan.
Now the state is finally getting serious. Khalil AlHajal from Michigan Live has the story.
"We have a dead body on our hands," State Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) said on WJBK's weekend Let it Rip program.
"It's the fastest growing sport in the United States," Sanatana said. "There's no rules, no regulations whatsoever (in Michigan). So they're going to fight regardless because there's a promoter out there that's going to encourage it."
"There was never any pre-fight determination by a doctor to say whether or not the man was capable of fighting. You don't know if two weeks ago he got knocked out in some other state, came over here to fight. You don't know if something else was going on with that individual prior to them entering the cage... what this bill does... it takes a step, a lot of steps forward to stopping these types of things from happening."
The bill, which passed the House by a 106-3 vote, would create an advisory commission to oversee amateur MMA, requiring promoters to be licensed, carry health insurance for fighters, have a physician and ambulance on site at fights, and hold pre-fight medical screenings.
Fight promoter Joe Donofrio, who helped Santana write the bill, acknowledged that the regulations would raise the cost of holding an MMA event and hurt small-time promoters.
"Maybe they shouldn't be in the business," he said. Maybe they should try another sport.
"... A doctor on site is necessary, along with an ambulance... We have to have trained referees. They have to know when to stop the fight. Right now, there is no training for referees. Anybody can use any kind of trainer or any referee to do anything."
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