Mixed martial arts matches will soon be allowed in Connecticut venues.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday signed a bill into law that lifts the state’s ban on MMA starting Oct. 1. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey on Twitter congratulated fans of the sport and said the legislation “will be good for the economy too.”
But some promoters have voiced concern about a provision included in Connecticut’s legislation that makes them liable for health care costs associated with fighters’ injuries, questioning whether they’ll come to the state. MMA is a form of fighting that combines boxing, wrestling, taekwondo, judo and other disciplines. Matches are currently only permitted at Connecticut’s Indian-run casinos, but illegal in the rest of the state.
Joe Cuff, a promoter at Reality Fighting, which currently organizes MMA events at Mohegan Sun, said last month that his organization wouldn’t promote a show in a jurisdiction with such a requirement because of the liability.
Cuff said it is standard procedure for doctors to provide medical inspections at fight events and for promoters to supply insurance to help defer possible health costs.
But those policies, he said, often only cover the night of the fight and have a low cap, leaving fighters personally liable for potentially large, long-term medical bills.
But in a statement issued Thursday, Lorenzo Fertitta, chairman and CEO of Ultimate Fighting Championship, thanked Malloy for signing the bill, making Connecticut the 49th state to legalize the growing sport.
“UFC looks forward to coming to Glover Teixeira’s home state of Connecticut,” he said, referring to the popular MMA fighter.
Venues in Hartford and Bridgeport, as well as state legislators from those cities, have campaigned for years to host the fights, arguing the events will draw thousands of spectators and boost the local economies.
Even though Malloy signed the bill into law, he has made it clear he’s not a fan of MMA.
He recently told reporters that he had no plans to attend any matches at the casinos or elsewhere, saying the sport was “not my bowl of porridge.”