Thankfully Governors David Paterson of New York and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin want to see MMA in their states. Gov. Doyle signed a measure last week, Senate Bill 290 to be exact, making Wisconsin the 43rd state to regulate the sport of MMA. The path for MMA in our neighbor state was short, only taking 5 months for it to be passed. Even Mark Ratner, VP of Regulatory Affairs for Zuffa, said, " This process actually went really quick...we had a wonderful lobbyist."
So how did they get it done so quick, and can New York copy this strategy? Senate Bill 290 borrowed heavily from existing Wisconsin boxing regulations. One protective measure in the new MMA regulations is that each combative participant must now provide proof of adequate health insurance, be examined before and after each bout, receive physical examinations regularly and be tested for banned substances.
But all the responsibility is not falling on only the fighter's lap, promoters will need to follow specific safety standards. An ambulance and physician must be present during each match. Promoters must be licensed, they must pay an annual fees, they must have a department appointed inspector present at the fight and all matchmakers, managers, refs, physicians and fighters must be licensed as well.
Ratner Zuffa, Inc point-man on this, is serious about brining the UFC to Wisconsin. However, "we want the commission to have a staff and trained referees. We're serious about coming here," claims Ratner.
As for New York, well they are not moving as quickly, however Gov. Paterson is lobbying for the sport with a strategic plan- MMA could be one element to help balance the budget. But despite this tactic, NY is still slow to go against ex-Gov George Pataki actions who had it banned in 1997 - the first state to do so.