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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Connecticut Legalizes Mixed Martial Arts

By Geoffrey J. Miller

Photo Credit: Al Powers;
Despite noting that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was "not [his] cup of porridge," Connecticut Govenor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a new bill legalizing MMA competition throughout Connecticut. Previously MMA was limited to Indian Casino venues.  Lorenzo Fertitta, CEO of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), thanked Malloy for making Connecticut the forty-ninth state to allow MMA competitions.

A similar bill was introduced last year, but it died when Senate President Donald Williams and Majority Leader Martin Looney declined to put it up for a vote. This year's successful MMA bill was introduced in January by State Senator Andres Ayala and Representative Charles D. Clemons.  It passed in the house of Representatives with 117 votes of a possible 143.

Senator Ayala has been a particularly outspoken proponent of legalizing MMA.  He noted earlier this year that he would "work tirelessly for the remainder of the session to try and convince the leadership of the Senate that passing this the right thing to do and now is the time to do it.”

In promoting the MMA bill, Senator Ayala pointed to the potential for jobs and state revenue:
If MMA is legalized in Connecticut, it will mean jobs - union jobs - and economic activity for people and communities where it is desperately needed...MMA is the fastest growing sport in the nation. Fans in Connecticut watch it on broadcast, cable and pay-per-view television. They travel to other states and countries to watch it live. We should legalize it here in Connecticut and attract fans from other states and countries to our communities. 
Despite the bill's success, some MMA promotions are cautious due to an included provision that makes promoters liable for health care costs associated with fighters' injuries.  Generally, promoters supply doctors on site and some limited medical insurance to help defer possible healthcare costs, but those policies generally have caps and cover only the night of the fight.  The Connecticut policy would leave promoters liable for potentially large, long-term medical bills. Reality Fighting promoter Joe Cuff has already stated that he would not promote a card within the state’s borders because of the large amount of liability.

Read the Bill Here: