A recent fighter's death inspires proposal to regulate mixed martial arts fighting

Apr 11, 2013

Mixed martial arts can be traced far into the history of sport fighting. The full contact sport has competitive roots in Brazil and Japan and allows players to hit and strike one another when standing or on the ground, much like wrestling.

Last Saturday, a 35-year-old mixed martial art fighter died after an amateur fight in Port Huron.

Following the death, State Representative Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) from the 9th district in Detroit was able to push a package of reform bills through the House that would finally regulate amateur MMA fights in the state of Michigan.

His bill would require promoters of amateur events to be licensed annually and to carry up to $10,000 in health insurance for fighters.

Michigan legalized  professional MMA bouts in 2007, but there was nothing for amateurs, which critics in the mixed martial arts community say is dangerous.

The first state to regulate MMA was New Jersey in 2000. The state set up a fully regulated program, which included rules for an amateur program.

So, how would new regulations change the MMA community in Michigan? Would this bill prevent future injuries and deaths of fighters?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Nick Lembo. Lembo is the chair of the MMA Committee for the Association of Boxing Commissions within the New Jersey State Athletic control board.

To hear the full audio, click the link above.