By Zach Arnold | June 8, 2007
By Zach Arnold
The Grand Rapids Press newspaper has taken a beating this week over an anti-MMA article published by writer Brian VanOchten, who has been ridiculed across-the-board by both MMA writers and fans. However, the newspaper has published a new article today by author David Mayo titled Safety ignored in rush to OK ultimate fighting. Once you get past the use of ‘ultimate fighting’ in the title, the article is very informative.
The most troubling aspect of the bill: Promoters of mixed martial arts would be required to provide each contestant with minimum insurance coverages of $5,000 for medical and hospitalization, and $10,000 for accidental death, just three years after the legislature approved new minimums of $50,000 each for boxing.
Until boxing was overhauled in 2004, its insurance minimums, set in 1952, were $5,000.
Given that backdrop, why pass a law providing mixed martial artists with one-tenth the medical coverage, and one-fifth the loss-of-life coverage, of pro boxers?
Both Marc Ratner and Kenny Florian have been lobbying for this legislation in the Michigan state House. What I quoted from the article up above is just the start of some of the troubling proposed aspects of the bill. One of the heavy criticisms from people like boxing writer Charles Jay is whether or not future MMA legislation in different states influenced heavily by UFC and Marc Ratner would be beneficial to UFC only and not to smaller MMA promotions. That argument cuts both ways (one way being that you keep clowns out of promoting, the other way being that you keep legitimate grass-roots promoters out of the business). Mayo makes this argument:
Of those, the licensing issue will have greater impact, because under the guise of raising revenue, the $2,500 fee — compared to $500 for the same license in Nevada — will make it prohibitive for many grass-roots promoters to enter the mixed martial arts business. It can, and will, restrict business competition.
So, if the information presented in the article is true, we have the classic makings of a really bad law that would benefit only big promotions and money marks while keeping out real grass-roots promoters. Promoters like Art Dore have the money to get involved in MMA if they want, but someone else who may own an MMA training facility that wants to puts on shows may not have the cash to do it. Then, once you reach the high ante-in fee to get into to promote, then the insurance requirements are only 20% of those promoting boxing. You can make the argument that boxing is much more dangerous than MMA, but MMA fighters are also personally uninsured as independent contractors.
Here’s the cause for concern: You’re setting up a situation where you’re placing a financial barrier on good promoters but allowing someone like Toughman promoter Art Dore (or one of his associates) to easily get into the business. Upon entry into the business, suddenly the costs for insurance are only 20% in MMA compared to boxing. If someone in an MMA fight on one of these shows dies, they wouldn’t have to pay out the same kind of insurance money as they would if it was a professional boxing fight.
If you want to contact politicians who have sway in regards to how this legislation is created, here is some contact information:
It only takes a couple of minutes to make some calls and send some e-mails.