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Column: Michigan MMA legislation not up to par

By Zach Arnold | June 8, 2007

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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.

Read the full entry.

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:

Rep. Barbara Farrah (sponsor of the legislation)
E-mail address:
Phone number: 517-373-0845
FAX: 517-373-5926

Rep. Andy Dillon (Speaker of the state House)
E-mail address:
Phone number: 517-373-0857
FAX: 517-373-5976

Michigan Boxing Commission
Phone number: 517-241-9288
Next scheduled public meeting: June 21, 10 AM

It only takes a couple of minutes to make some calls and send some e-mails.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “Column: Michigan MMA legislation not up to par”

  1. DarthMolen says:

    Although Boxing has been shown to be more dangerous over long term, I would put forth that MMA is more dangerous short term.

    There are a higher number of lacerations, bone breaks, and flash knock-outs in MMA that require short-term, expensive, medical care but don’t really pose long-term risks.

    Lower the ante fee and raise the premiums for insurance to cover the nastiness would be my idea….

  2. Psygone says:

    I wonder if they make a distinction between Pro, Amateur, & Exhibition fights?

  3. doem says:

    Ultimate Fighting? isnt that what Rogan called it (most likely at the behest of the UFC) when he was on ESPN?
    Could you imagine if the UFC tried to brand MMA by exclusively referring to it as ultimate fighting?

  4. Franky says:


    I agree with you about the short-term effects of an MMA fight. I like the idea of lowering the ante fee and raising the premiums.

  5. Adam Morgan says:


    The UFC already has branded MMA as ultimate fighting. That term is everywhere and not just in reference to the UFC. The casual fan doesn’t know MMA is the same as “ultimate fighting.”

  6. [...] Detroit News: Legislation could bring professional sport to state (make sure to read this as [...]


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