Georgia Conditionally Approves Remaining 2012 MMA Events, Delays Decision on 2013 Shows


The Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission has decided to conditionally approve the remaining boxing and mixed martial arts events submitted to the state for 2012.

The GAEC held its monthly meeting Nov. 5 in Atlanta and discussed whether the commission could continue to approve fight cards before Georgia Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp named the regulatory body a new, permanent executive director who could competently oversee the matchmaking in the state to protect fighter safety.

Though Secretary of State official Steve Lindsey was appointed to fill Foster’s shoes temporarily, Vice Chairman Rick Thompson expressed concern that Lindsey would be unable to perform the executive director’s duty of overseeing the matchmaking and preventing mismatches that could result in serious injury to fighters.

Andy Foster, who was named GAEC executive director in 2008, tomorrow begins his new position as the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission. At yesterday’s GAEC meeting, Foster expressed his desire to protect local promoters and fighters from losing out on income during the commission’s ongoing transition. As a result, Foster agreed to evaluate the matchmaking in the remaining cards for 2012 and make sure that the events were assigned staff before he departed for California.

As a stipulation of receiving Foster’s approval, promoters attending the meeting agreed that no changes would be made to their fight cards, meaning that if one participant withdraws from a bout after Foster approves it, no replacement opponent will be allowed to step in and the match will be canceled.

At this time, the commission decided against approving any events scheduled for 2013, as many of those cards are not yet finalized and would therefore be difficult to evaluate. The issue of approving January and February events was tabled for the commission’s December meeting.

Two promoters in attendance spoke up during the meeting’s public comment section and expressed their concerns that they may not be able to properly book and promote their January shows. Rory Singer, UFC veteran and co-owner of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga., also spoke about the possibility of combat sports being halted in the state.

“How are we not saying that MMA, right now, is over?” Singer asked. “Whether it is an interim thing or a long-lasting thing, for the time being, everything that has just been tabled here states that mixed martial arts in the state of Georgia has no future until somebody comes into power who actually knows what they are doing. Unfortunately, Mr. Lindsey has been put in a situation where he is not that man.

“[The commissioners] are not going to approve matches where people may die if those matches are not approved properly, and the man in charge of approving that can’t make that decision, and the man who appointed him doesn’t want to have anything to do with MMA or boxing in the state of Georgia and therefore put someone in that position that he is going to ignore.

“The bureaucracy of that is obscene. It makes my brain hurt to sit here and have this conversation with a group of intelligent men and women who don’t see this for what it is. It is a man who does not care about the sport wanting it to go away, because it is one less thing that he has to deal with. It is unacceptable for all that we have grown over the past 10 years.”

Commissioner J.J. Biello disagreed with Singer’s assessment of the situation, asserting that the commission was simply going through a transitional period.

The exact date of the GAEC’s December meeting is not yet listed on the state’s website.

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