Lansing — A bill meant to add safety checks to amateur mixed martial arts fights is on its way to the Senate for a final vote before likely heading to Gov. Rick Snyder’s office for review.
The plan would add regulations for amateur MMA fights in the state such as required weigh-ins, score tabs and state-approved hand wraps. It would also bar minors from fights, create a new fine for those who violate the rules and require the state to establish official weight classes for amateur fights — one of the most important changes the bill would make, supporters argue.
The GOP-controlled House approved the bill 107-1 Wednesday, with one Republican voting against it. It now heads back to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before it will likely be sent to Snyder.
Amateur MMA fighting, usually a combination of ju jitsu and kickboxing, has become popular in Michigan. But amateur rings don’t always have the same regulations as the pros.
For example, the state’s current weight class standards for amateur MMA fighters don’t follow national standards, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis. The state also can’t currently penalize amateur fighters who don’t comply with existing state standards, the analysis found.
The legislation would allow the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to levy a $10,000 fine on an amateur fighter who breaks the state’s MMA rules.
“LARA was very supportive of this legislation that would allow the department to administer the act more efficiently and move the state inline with national standards regarding weight classes,” said LARA spokesman Jason Moon
There was no debate in the House Wednesday and no one argued against the legislation in panel hearings. Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Wayland Township, was the sole House lawmaker to vote against it, but did not give a public explanation to his colleagues.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, passed the Senate 38-0 in May.
It follows new MMA regulations Robertson also sponsored that Snyder signed into law in 2015 requiring testing for blood-borne diseases like HIV, AIDS and hepatitis. The plan also required blood tests for drugs and alcohol, created official weight classes and financial penalties for event organizers who break the rules.
Another bill Snyder signed in 2015 sponsored by former Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, made it a felony for a fight promoter to set up a bout between an amateur and a professional fighter.
Santana called for action in 2013 after an amateur MMA fighter died during a match in Port Huron that year.