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Bill to sanction MMA
in Connecticut introduced for fifth year
State Capitol in Hartford, CT
By Brian Woodman Jr.

   State legislators are again discussing a bill that proposes sanctioning MMA in Connecticut, which along with New York is one of two states where the sport is considered illegal, although Alaska and Wyoming do not have athletic commissions and cannot regulate it. The bill, House Bill 5277 (An Act Legalizing and Regulating Mixed Martial Arts), has been filed with the state’s legislative commissioner’s office and as of this writing is tentatively scheduled for further discussion.
   State Rep. Charles Clemons of Assembly District 124 and State Sen. Andres Ayala of Senate District 23 introduced the bill in January to the joint committee on public safety and security. The bill proposes that the state permit professional MMA events while regulating them like boxing matches.
   Democrats Clemons and Ayala both represent Bridgeport. Mayor Bill Finch of Bridgeport was among those who testified in favor of the bill during a public hearing on Feb. 7.
   The bill would give the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection regulatory powers over MMA matches while imposing safety require-ments on them. It would also require sponsors and participants to be licensed with the state.
   “While objections have been raised to the Mixed Martial Arts due to the violent nature of the sport, I don’t believe that this issue alone should prohibit the legalization of the sport in Connecticut,� said Finch, who referred to the popularity of the sport and said Connecticut was behind the times on this the issue. “Football and boxing also have well-documented histories of injuries as a result of the sport, yet both are legal in Connecticut. Steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the participants before and during the events.�
   Melissa Mason, a spokesperson for the labor organization UNITE HERE!, and Connecticut AFLCIO Secretary-Treasurer Lori Pelletier testified against it. They both criticized the sport for its violent content and referred to misogynistic elements, while Mason referred to the Newtown school shooting in her testimony.

   “Why, in a state that has just suffered the second-deadliest school shooting in in history, would we even consider exposing our children to the violent misogyny and perverse forms of masculinity that are celebrated in the world of cage fighting?�
   Pelletier also criticized what she called “the people involved in the MMA world� for creating problems with the Nevada AFL-CIO. She provided similar testimony last year.
   State Rep. Matt Ritter of Assembly District 1 said the 5 percent tax on gross receipts proposed in the bill and the economic trickle toward other businesses like bars and restaurants would generate revenues for the state -- an opinion reflected by most of the supporters. State Rep. Sean Williams of Assembly District 68 said an MMA event held at the Hartford XL Center may earn $350,000 for the state.
   Others that testified in favor of the bill included business owners and UFC representatives. Darin Reisler, the owner of Plus One Defense Systems in West Hartford, said the training involved with sport fostered positive personal development in youth.
   Glover Teixeira (20-2), who defeated Quinton “Rampage� Jackson at UFC on FOX 6, also expressed support. He currently lives in Danbury.
   Jim Krayeske, chairman of the Connecticut Boxing Commission, cautioned the committee that the bill should include regulations for amateur as well as professional participants when the final draft is prepared.

Text of the testimony and details on the bill
can be found at

Editor’s note: Our previous story on this issue
can be found at

We will also follow the progress of this story
on our blog at