Rep. Santana Victorious in Protecting Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Fighters

Lawmaker's bills ensure oversights and protections for growing sport
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

State Representative Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) expressed his gratitude today for the broad bipartisan support in the passage of his legislation, House Bills 4166 and 4167. The bills bring much-needed state regulation to the “Wild West” environment of amateur mixed martial arts and ends an era where young athletes are exploited by unscrupulous promoters and often left with injuries, hospital bills and a life of pain. The bills both passed 106-3.

“This is a day that has long been coming, and while I am relieved these bills passed, it only comes after the tragic passing of an amateur fighter, Felix Elochukwu Nchikwo, in Port Huron just four days ago,” Santana said after the vote. “I can only hope and pray that this legislation will prevent another promising athlete from being seriously or fatally injured in the cage.”

The following provisions must be adhered to under these bills:

  • Participants must be 18 or older
  • A medical doctor must be ringside
  • An ambulance must be on site at all events
  • The State Unarmed Combat Commission is empowered to make disciplinary sanctions against licensees or other individuals who violate the rules that are promulgated by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
  • Ethical and legal standards will be established for promoters
  • A state license is needed for promoters with appropriate fees paid to the state
  • Nine weight classes will be established to protect fighters against mismatches
  • Medical health standards and blood testing are mandated
  • Rules mandating care for knockouts and medical clearance to fight again will be enacted
  • A promoter must provide $10,000 in medical insurance for each fighter
  • Misdemeanor and felony legal penalties will be established
  • Results of fights must be reported to the state and kept in a data base to enforce fighter requirements
  • All fighters must register basic information with the state in order to participate in a fight

The professional martial arts sport has long been regulated in Michigan. However, the amateur events, which are far more numerous and involve many more athletes, have never had any sort of regulation. Young athletes depend on the good will of promoters who often are more concerned with financial profit than any other factor.

“These fights are becoming more prevalent across the state, and each time, without these added regulations, we were rolling the dice,” Santana stated. “I’m thankful for such broad support on this important piece of legislation. I am confident the Senate will get these bills to the governor’s desk quickly to prevent any more suffering.”