Mixed Martial Arts hopes to be acknowledged and accepted by every US state and recently, they did get a step closer as the state of West Virginia recently passed a bill legalizing and regulating MMA.
After what seemed like an everlasting battle, West Virginia seems to be the next state shifting towards acceptance for the sport of mixed martial arts. The bill legalizing and regulating MMA passed through the West Virgina Senate earlier this month by a vote of 23-10, leaving New York, Vermont, and Connecticut as the only states with athletic commissions that do not regulate MMA.
Former member of the West Virginia Athletic Commission, Sam Minardi, plead the sport’s case before legislature.
“There’s a lot of opposition in West Virginia. Mixed martial arts has been typecast since the mid-1990s. They look at the early days — since the first UFC event. I don’t think a lot of people realize the sport’s changed,” Minardi said. “We had an athletic commission that simply refused to open their eyes to see how much has changed, how much safer the sport has become.”
“It’s unfortunate that it took so long to get it here,” Minardi said. “I was on the commission when we put a virtual ban on the sport. I know why we did it. We had some small shows that were popping up; there wasn’t a ring, there wasn’t a cage — it was on a stage. It was great competition. The guys appeared to be pretty quality athletes. They didn’t have rules or safety measures — that was a dangerous event.
For those who fought to bring MMA to the state, the most difficult task may be over.
“This was not an easy bill to pass,” Minardi said. “When you have the whole five-member athletic commission come out and say absolutely not, and we get it done anyway … that’s a big victory.”