Wyoming to Become First State with MMA-Only Commission Beginning July 1


The nation’s least populated state will have the ability to host big-time mixed martial arts events in the near future.

Wyoming became the 45th state to regulate mixed martial arts last Thursday when Gov. Matt Mead signed House Bill 87 into law. The legislation, which was introduced by State Rep. Bryan Pedersen earlier this year, was unanimously approved by both the state’s Senate and House of Representatives.

Wyoming will be the only state to have an MMA-only commission to regulate the sport --the regulation of MMA in most states falls under the jurisdiction of existing athletic or boxing commissions. According the Casper Star-Tribune, state lawmakers had tried to re-establish the office of the state boxing commissioner -- who would have been in charge of overseeing MMA -- five times in the last 10 years, but opposition from the state boxing industry was too great.

Gov. Mead will appoint three members to the commission on July 1, when the bill takes effect. At that time, board members will begin drafting new rules and regulations, with help from nearby commissions such as the Colorado Boxing Commission.

Now only five states remain that do not regulate MMA: New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Montana and Alaska, which doesn’t have a commission in place to sanction the sport. MMA was not previously illegal in Wyoming, but without a sanctioning body in place, bouts were not recognized on fighter’s records.

The board will be funded by a five percent tax on gross receipts on all MMA events held in the state. According to the Star-Tribune, some event organizers and fighters are worried that those fees would harm the sport in Wyoming, perhaps shutting down a number of the estimated 20 events that take place each year.

UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner has told the Star-Tribune that the promotion could bring a Fight Night type of event to Wyoming once a regulatory body was in place.

The organization’s only previous trip to Wyoming came at UFC 6 on July 14, 1995, at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyo. The most prominent fighter to emerge from Wyoming in recent years is former UFC middleweight title challenger Nate Marquardt.

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