However, a health care provision in the connecticut bill could derail MMA in the Constitution State.
Despite legislative action to lift Connecticut's ban on mixed martial arts, plans to bring the sport to venues across the state are hanging in limbo because of a provision making promoters liable for health care costs associated with fighters' injuries.
The state's General Assembly passed the Legislation Wednesday on the last day of the session, leaving MMA advocates unsure about their ability to expand their operations in the state.
"We wouldn't promote a show within a jurisdiction that would require that," said Joe Cuff, a promoter at Reality Fighting, which currently organizes MMA events at Mohegan Sun. "You're taking on a ton of liability."
The health care provision was backed by Senate President Donald Williams Jr., a Democrat who voted against the main bill Wednesday after preventing the Senate from even considering it in previous years.
"Injuries that are incurred by these athletes ought to be the responsibility of the promoters who make tremendous amounts of money off of these athletes," Williams said.
"Let's remember: This is a sport where the ultimate goal is not about scoring touchdowns or shooting baskets or shooting goals," he said. "It's about waling away on another person, hitting them and kicking them repeatedly. That is what the sport is about."
Cuff said it is standard procedure for doctors to provide medical inspections at fight events and for promoters to supply insurance to help defer possible health care costs, as they do in boxing. But Williams said such policies often cover only the night of the fight and have a low cap, leaving fighters personally liable for potentially large, long-term medical bills.
"I don't know as to what level they want covered, but that would be pretty hardcore," Cuff said. "That's kind of, yikes."
All states that regulate MMA events require insurance, but none requires promoters to cover fighters' health care costs, said Steven Greenberg, a spokesman for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, one of the nation's largest MMA promoters.
Greenberg said that UFC had not yet determined how the health care provision would affect its plans but that it hoped to organize its first MMA fight in Connecticut sometime in 2014.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, a Democrat who hailed the bill's passage in the House last month, said the law should be revised if it prevents the sport from coming to the state.
The bill must still be signed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who hasn't taken a position on it but made clear Thursday that he's not a fan of MMA.
"If I sign the legislation, I will not be attending the event either at the casinos where it's currently allowed or at any other facility," he told reporters Thursday at a news conference. "Not my bowl of porridge."