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New Amateur MMA Regulation Will Help Attract More Events To PA, Boosting Revenue For Related Businesses

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele lauded Thursday's approval of a new Mixed Martial Arts regulation by the state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission, a move that will help grow amateur Mixed Martial Arts events in Pennsylvania and be a boon to many businesses in the state.

"Mixed Martial Arts is a fast growing sport, and major events can draw tens of thousands of fans, whose dollars support many businesses located near arenas where events are held," said Aichele, whose department oversees regulation of MMA through the State Athletic Commission.

The new regulation, which must still be approved by the attorney general's office, would create an "advanced level" for amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters.  This new regulation, upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, would give the State Athletic Commission authority to approve a waiver of two rules for amateur MMA contestants, on a case by case basis, as these athletes work to make the transition to professional status. 

The waivers would permit certain amateur contestants to strike to the opponent's head while on the ground, a move commonly known as "ground and pound," and not be required to wear shin/instep pads. Professional contestants are not bound by these rules, and the strict requirement for amateurs is making the transition to professional status more difficult for amateur fighters in Pennsylvania.

"We have received requests from many amateur athletes to make these changes, to give them a better opportunity to advance their careers," Aichele said.  She emphasized the waivers will be on a case by case basis with the safety of the athletes in mind.

"These waivers will only be considered when requested by both contestants in an amateur bout. To apply for the waiver, amateur contestants must be experienced, with at least three sanctioned bouts," Greg Sirb, executive director of the State Athletic Commission said. "The Commission will take into account several factors, including the win-loss records of both participants, and the individual conditioning, training, experience, and skill levels of the contestants.  Requiring all these conditions before granting a waiver will lessen the chance for injury in practicing these techniques."

Several states, including neighboring Ohio, now permit amateur contestants to engage in the "ground and pound" technique, and do not require amateurs to wear the shin/instep pads. As a result, Pennsylvania risks losing many amateur MMA events to these other states that do not share our restrictions.

In 2011, Pennsylvania hosted two major Ultimate Fighting Championship events in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. These two events generated an estimated $6 to $8 million in total economic activity.

"Hotels, restaurants, bars, and other service establishments near arenas see large increases in their business when these events come to town," Aichele said.  "These new regulations give the Commission the authority to approve waivers for only those fighters ready to move to the next level, while at the same time helping our state's economy by making Pennsylvania a more attractive place for MMA events."

The State Athletic Commission receives no state general fund tax money and is totally self-supportive through a 5 percent tax on gate receipts of sanctioned events and various license fees.  Money from Commission sanctioned events helps insure proper oversight for all sports the commission oversees, including amateur boxing in which many young people compete, professional boxing, kickboxing and MMA.

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