MMA bill sails through Conn. House

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

MMA was once despised, pushed from the airways, and frequently illegal. Now it is the world’s fastest growing sport, and at least at the professional level, is legal and regulated nearly everywhere. The two exceptions are New York and Connecticut.

Current Connecticut statutes don’t permit MMA, according to a legal interpretation from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, although training is allowed.

“Because the current boxing regulations prohibit the fighting techniques used in MMA, and there is no statutory authority for MMA, MMA events cannot take place in Connecticut without a legislative change,” explained Blumenthal in a Dec. 8, 2008, correspondence with State Boxing Commission Chairman James Krayeske, Jr.

But regulation in Connecticut appears to be moving along. Past attempts to regulate the sport have met with opposition from the Culinary Union, and the WWE.

HB-5277 passed the Connecticut House of Representatives by a 117-26 vote. It now moves on to the state senate, where if brought for a vote would then put the sport on the cusp of legalization in the state.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta is hoping the bill will find its way to the governor’s desk if it’s allowed to be put to a vote in the state senate.

“I want to thank the House members who supported this bill,” Fertitta stated. “It’s the right thing to do for the thousands of Connecticut MMA and UFC fans, for economic development in the state and for jobs. We will now turn our attention to the Senate and urge the leadership to permit the bill to be voted upon. We are confident that if Senators are allowed to vote on the bill, it will pass with strong bipartisan support.”

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charles Clemons and Sen. Andres Ayala, already enjoys bipartisan support with 34 co-sponsors.

“Legalizing MMA is the right thing to do,” Clemons stated. “I am proud of my colleagues in the House for the strong support they gave the bill and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to turn this bill into a law in 2013. The bill had strong support in the Committee on Public Safety and Security, the Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding, and on the floor of the House. The majority of representatives – Democrats and Republicans – know that this is the right thing to do for Connecticut.”

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