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
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