MMA in MD; Newspaper Article; Rallo central figure

http://www.stardem.com/article.asp?article=37286&paper=1&cat=137

ttt for John Rallo

a great guy in this sport

ttt 4 MMA in MD!

Rallo's put alot of time, effort and money into getting MMA legalized in MD.He's a great guy for the sport (and a pretty good teacher too).

Can anyone copy and paste the article??

Article from March 22nd, 08 - AOL Sports

MMA Coming Soon to Maryland

Michael David SmithPosted Mar 22nd 2008 1:52PM by Michael David Smith
Filed under: Baltimore, Fighting, MMA, MMA/Boxing
Maryland is poised to become the latest state to realize that mixed martial arts is, in fact, a legitimate sport.

In a development that will no doubt be condemned by a newspaper columnist with a lot of Maryland readers, the state senate approved a bill on Friday that would allow the Maryland State Athletic Commission to oversee mixed martial arts. Supporters hope and expect that the legislation will pass in the House of Delegates and be signed by the governor. Gym owner John Rallo explains how the bill got passed:

"If we would have tried to get it legalized without supplying the stats and making the experts available to testify, I don't think it would have ever gotten passed," he said. "Education was the best way to get what we wanted, and I believed that all along."

Rallo has it exactly right: Opposition to MMA is based on ignorance, and the way to combat that opposition is through education. When a big MMA show turns up in Baltimore, fans will have Rallo to thank.

THIS IS THE ARTICLE

Time to drop the taboos on mainstream MMA
By DEREK COLEMAN
Guest Columnist
April 2, 2008

In a move long overdue, the Maryland General Assembly has essentially sanctioned competitive mixed martial arts in our state becoming the 33rd state to regulate a growing sport that's best represented by the "Ultimate Fighting Championship".

Long overdue, that is, unless you're as out of touch as Leonard Shapiro of The Washington Post. More on him later.

On March 21, a bill passed through the Maryland Senate to enable the state athletic commission to oversee MMA, like it currently oversees professional boxing (the United States Boxing Association regulates amateur competition).

Then last Thursday, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved similar legislation, paving the way for pro events to be held in Maryland where previously athletes were able to train but not compete, unless they traveled to places like Washington, New Jersey, Delaware or Virginia.

The central figure in educating the state legislators was John Rallo, who owns and operates a Baltimore MMA training facility, Ground Control Academy. Rallo is an articulate former MMA pro who spoke via phone Saturday about the sanctioning process while waiting for the Cung Le-Frank Shamrock Strikeforce middleweight title fight to air on Showtime.

Rallo sounded humble while praising the help that made the process smoother than it would've been even five years ago. Admittedly, all the media attention the sport has garnered with the UFC securing Anheuser-Busch as a major sponsor, while ProElite, Inc. recently signed a deal to air its events live on CBS likely helped, too.

"It's already a mainstream sport," said Rallo, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. "But in order for the people to understand it two guys rolling around there on the ground you have to educate them.

"It's hard to grasp, but it really is a physical chess match going on out there on the ground," Rallo said of MMA, a sport that merges grappling and striking disciplines, notably jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, kick-boxing, judo and muay thai.

Because of the groundwork done by Rallo and others notably Nick Lembo, who works with the New Jersey State Athletic Control board both MMA bills went through the General Assembly quickly. Now, they'll need to be approved when cross-filed and gain Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature in order to become law in October.

Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery Co.) sponsored House Bill 795, which passed Thursday by vote of 117-22, including an approval vote by Del. Jeannie Haddaway. Reznik sounded confident that once the General Assembly is finished, the state's athletic commission will pick up the job and get MMA regulations up and running, including medical examinations, approved gloves, weight classes and round time limits.

"The Maryland State Athletic Commission has a long history of dealing with boxing, kick-boxing and wrestling," said Reznik, a former martial arts instructor. "We have a great state athletic commission that takes its job very seriously.

"We used studies, including a Johns Hopkins study, to show that the injuries sustained in MMA occur significantly less than in boxing," he said of educating other legislators. "It is a safe sport, and a lot of people have trouble seeing that."

The Mid-Shore already has one MMA fighter in Easton's Logan Wheeler, who played football, lacrosse and wrestled at Easton High before graduating in 2007.

"I've done boxing since I was 13, but then I got into MMA about two and a half to three years ago," Wheeler said. "Boxing is a dying sport, and all the attention now is on MMA."

The 19-year-old trains twice a day and has already fought in an amateur MMA event, losing to "Ruckus in the Cage" middleweight champion Kris McRay via submission (rear naked choke) last September in Oakwood, Va. On April 12 he'll travel to Newark, Del. to take on another experienced foe in Chris Reedy, in a 170-pound amateur muy thai bout at "Combat in the Cage".

"Basically, he's an amazing wrestler and jiu-jitsu guy, but he's been knocked out a couple times," Wheeler said of Reedy. "So he wants to prove he can stand up and strike. This will be a straight muy thai match."

Wheeler first began MMA training with Lloyd Irvin's Academy in Prince George's County, but has since relocated to Blackbelt World in Delmar, Del. In fact, he'll be instructing muy thai and boxing classes once a new, 8,000-square foot facility is finished construction in Delmar later this month.

After his debut, Wheeler said Blackbelt World's wrestling and BJJ coach, Brad Pole (who will also compete at "Combat in the Cage"), decided Wheeler should drop in weight and try to tighten up his ground game. Wheeler hopes to fight at least three or four more times this year, and by next year perhaps there will be amateur or pro events held in Maryland, too.

Another upcoming pro MMA event in the area is Ultimate Warrior Challenge "Invasion" April 26 at The Patriot Center, in Fairfax, Va. Baltimore's Tenyeh Dixon a Ground Control middleweight battles Marcus Foran, while P.G. County fighter Mike Easton looks to improve on his 4-1 mark in the 145-pound division against Gerald Loyato.

In the not-too-distant future, hard-working athletes like these will be able to ply their trade in their home state, just like the rest of us.

Someone still opposed to that concept or the concept of MMA in general is Shapiro, an award-winning journalist. His deliberate ignorance during a March 18 Post column was worthy of a pink slip.

There were several ridiculous insinuations in his commentary, from labeling MMA a "so-called sport" to comparing mixed martial artists with the Roman gladiators who fought to the death in the Coliseum. All he did was regurgitate tired, old arguments, contributing nothing meaningful to a "debate" that the free market began to settle in 2005 when the UFC signed a television agreement with SPIKE TV.

Since he couldn't do the job of educating readers of the Post something guys like Rallo did in Annapolis with patience and professionalism here's a few facts to consider: According to the Journal of Combative Sport study called "Death under the Spotlight: The Manuel Velazquez Boxing Fatality Collection", since 1993 there have been 39 boxing-related deaths in the United States, compared to three in the entire world for MMA during that time period. Two of those were unsanctioned events; the only regulated fight was Sam Vasquez's death in December, resulting from injuries sustained during a pro bout Oct. 20 in Houston, Texas.

In 1993, when UFC 1 was contested, MMA was known as NHB (No Holds Barred), meaning there were virtually no restrictions. Now there are over 31 standard rules for competition in the U.S., and even more during amateur events. Additionally, the 2006 Johns Hopkins study referenced by Del. Reznik concluded that:

"Mixed Martial Arts competitions have changed dramatically since the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. The overall injury rate in MMA competitions is now similar to other combat sports, including boxing. Knockout rates are lower in MMA competitions than in boxing. This suggests a reduced risk of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) in MMA competitions when compared to other events involving striking."

Mixed martial arts has been deemed safe by people a lot smarter than me or Leonard Shapiro; it is literally invading the sports world. For example, on Wednesday, UFC Fight Night an excellent free card is on SPIKE at 9 p.m., followed by "The Ultimate Fighter 7" debut show. Last Saturday, undefeated Cung Le bettered Frank Shamrock in a three-round striking war on Showtime to claim Strikeforce's 185-pound championship belt.

Last week, the World Extreme Cagefighting organization had another event live on VERSUS. The headline bout was former infantry Marine and Navy football player Brian Stann improving to 6-0 and claiming the WEC's light-heavyweight title with another first-round knockout, this time of WEC champ Doug Marshall.

Those are a small number of the free MMA events that are on TV each week, and there will be more. ProElite's deal with CBS will allow four events on prime-time network television in '08, beginning with a show on Saturday, May 31.

Obviously, Leonard Shapiro should stick to those sports he can understand; apparently golf is one of them. As it pertains to MMA, it's a stretch of the truth to call him a "writer." MMA is here to stay, and he would know this if he were informed.

Mixed martial arts fans hopefully wouldn't pay attention or respond to another story from Shapiro anyway, instead following the mantra of every MMA internet message board: "don't feed the troll."

Note: For more information, go to www.mmafacts.com

Derek Coleman is a former sportswriter for The Star Democrat.

thanks.

 ttt

ttt for John and MMA in MD!!