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Delaware considering a ban on MMA

While many states have decided to legalize the sport of mixed martial arts through regulation, it appears the state of Delaware is employing some backwards thinking by considering approval of a bill that would ban MMA.

According to an article by Alexander Pyles of The News Journal, state Rep. Robert J. Valihura Jr., has introduced legislation that would ban “combative fighting” in Delaware.

The proposed bill is known as House Bill 501 and is being called “Toughman Legislation.” Because we all know how similar Toughman competitions and mixed martial arts events are (intentional sarcasm, lest anyone thought otherwise).

According to Pyles’ article, the bill’s definition of “Toughman events” are as elimination-style tournaments between amateur participants without any boxing experience or training. Well, I’ve been to a fair amount of MMA shows in Delaware and have never seen a tournament contested.

Also, I’m not quite sure why one would necessarily need boxing training to fight in MMA, so long as they were training MMA at a recognized gym and not in their garage. Some of the most well-respected fight gyms in the Philadelphia area support Delaware MMA shows, such as Daddis Fight Camps, The Philadelphia Fight Factory, and Balance Studios. Also, fighters from John Rallo’s Team Ground Control out of Baltimore also fight in Delaware on a regular basis.

So there are a lot of well-trained athletes competing in Delaware. Their only crime could be the fact that they’ve upset the boxing community because they’ve proven you don’t need to embrace “the sweet science” in order to be successful in combat sports, which is costing the boxing industry tons of money.

While Mr. Pyles has written a fair and balanced article, he inexplicably decided to get a boxer’s perspective on MMA for the piece.

“It’s a brutal sport,” professional boxer Michael “No Joke” Stewart is quoted as saying in the article despite having no apparent MMA credentials. “MMA is just something I can’t get into, to be honest with you. I just think it’s more animalistic [than boxing].”

Well, the joke is on Mr. No Joke, because Stewart’s own trainer, Leon Tabs, actually believes MMA is safer than boxing, which is regulated and sanctioned by the state of Delaware.

If the name Leon Tabs is familiar to you, it’s because in addition to training boxers, he also is a cutman for many major UFC events. He’s someone who has the credentials to compare both sports.

“I thought it was brutal initially,” Tabs is quoted as saying. “But now I’m not sure it’s as brutal as boxing.”

Pyles’ article goes on to indicate that Tabs commented that “there are fewer direct shots to the head in MMA, and fewer sparring sessions during the weeks heading into a fight, making it less physically taxing for participants.”

It’s very concerning to hear boxing people quoted in the News Journal article because I’m wondering if those are the same sources where Rep. Valihura is getting his inaccurate info from? Talking to boxing people about a bill that would ban MMA is a conflict of interest. There are a lot of jealous boxing lifers who blame MMA for hurting their livelihood, when the reality is that boxing’s own actions have taken away from the once mighty industry.

So voters are once again in a potential situation where an elected official is moving to take away more of their rights based on inaccurate and incomplete information. I’d like to know what MMA promoters and fighters has he spoken to? Has he ever attended an MMA show? What studies is he referring to that says MMA is less safer than boxing?

If you’d like, you can contact Rep. Valihura and give him your thoughts about his plan to have MMA banned in Delaware at: [email protected] You can also call him at: 302-577-8723

I’d like you to e-mail him and speak your piece, but I also need you to be polite and professional. Sending profane e-mails to him isn’t going to make him think any differently about the sport.

MMA in Delaware is something that is near and dear to me. I attend amateur Combat in the Cage shows in the state on a regular basis. Many people I used to train with at Daddis Fight Camps fight on these shows. They use these shows to test themselves to determine whether they are ready to take the next step in their career and turn pro.

All of the CITC shows I’ve gone to have been well-attended and conducted in a safe, professional environment. Contrary to popular belief, CITC’s shows are insured. There have also always been a ringside physician along with EMTs to attend to the fighters in the event that there is a serious injury. I trust the shows so much that I was okay with having my wife fight on CITC’s show in August. But now, it looks like she could lose out on yet another opportunity to fight — as would hundreds of other fighters.

  • Derek B says:

    I did my job:

    I just read an article about the banning of MMA in Delaware. I’m not sure this is such a great idea. The way the economy is right now and the potential of making tax money from MMA is crucial in todays market. This sport is being taken serious and has been for the past 10 years. This isn’t 2 dogs in a cage trying to kill each other. That thought is what has been programmed in alot of minds of people who don’t understand the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. This sport takes courage, discipline, and honor to compete in it. Those 3 words (Courage, Discipline, & Honor) are also used for marketing the Military services for our country. So what’s the big deal about MMA being banned in Delaware? What are you affraid of? Potentially hurting MMA fighters in the state of Delaware? How about all the family who are out of jobs in your state? I’m sure there are plenty of MMA fighters in the state of Delaware who’d like to provide food for their family. This might be a tough job now for alot of these fighters considering you’re trying to ban this “SPORT.” I think this is a huge mistake and it could potential hurt our economy more and leave families stranded because their are not able to do what they love to do. This is America…we have the freedom of doing what we’d like to do…wether it be starting a bakery shop business or competing in a sport called mixed martial arts.

    MMA is 100 times more safe than football. Whens the last time you’ve read an article about a Mixed Martial Artist being paralyzed due to being tackled by a 300 pounds athlete? NEVER! This isn’t going to happen. If you’re going to ban MMA you might as well work on banning Football, Wrestling, Baseball, Golf, Nascar, etc…All of these sports can be considered dangerous. We all know that these sports have rules and regulations…so does MMA. There are plenty of medical staff on hand during a MMA fight. They aren’t there for their own health…they are their for the fighters health.

    Please consider hurting our nation by trying to ban MMA in Delaware. Think about how our economy could be helped out by the vendors who sell merchandise at MMA shows, the ticker sellers, the arena parking staff, the fighters, the sponsors and the dreams of young american’s looking to do something that takes Courage, discipline, & honor.

    Thank You

    Derek Bess
    Mixed Martial Arts Patriot

  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    Damn you Delaware.
    Always ruining the fun for everyone else.

  • Jason says:

    I found a link between him and mccain. big suprise.

    Delaware Leaders Join Supporters Of John McCain

    January 23, 2008

    ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today released its Delaware Leadership Team. The leadership team will contribute to the growing grassroots organization on behalf of John McCain in the First State.

    “John McCain is the right candidate with the experience, character, and judgment to unite our party and lead our nation,” said Congressman Michael Castle, Chair of Senator McCain’s Delaware campaign. “I trust the people of Delaware will rally behind the commonsense principled vision John McCain has offered the American people.”

    John McCain thanked the Delaware leaders, stating, “I welcome the support of these fine public servants and look forward to working with them to spread our message to the people of Delaware.”


    Congressman Michael Castle, Wilmington

    Delaware Speaker of the House Terry Spence, Stratford

    Vice Chair
    Republican National Committeeman John Matlusky, Wilmington

    New Castle County Legislative Chairs
    Rep. Joseph E Miro, Pike Creek Valley
    Rep. Robert J Valihura, Jr., Talleyville

    Kent County Legislative Chair
    Rep. Pamela J. Thornburg, Dover West

    Sussex County Legislative Chair
    Rep. Daniel B Short, Seaford

  • Guys..
    I have been working with some pretty bias Delaware Rep’s for quite a while on other Bans (Specifically Dog laws) and one thing that they all have in common is that the person presenting the Bill has never actually been in personal touch with what they are trying to ban.

    The best way to deal with them is to present them with actual stats of MMA v. Boxing, ie: how many punches thown/landed in a Boxing fight v. a MMA fight.
    How many shots to the head does an aveage 12 round boxing fight have at 155lbs? Hundreds. How many does the average MMA fight have at the same weight? A few dozen…

    Look at some of the beatings Mike Stewart has taken- and I am a fan of Mike’s- but he hasn’t been the same since Hatton destroyed him with about 50 unanswered shots.

    I have trained both (in DE and Philly) and I would say that MMA is safer without a doubt. There are less direct blows to the head, less injuries, and the fighter always has the ability to end the fight, just tap.

    Sam- a presentation of punches thrown v. landed in both sports would go a long way to these reps, we got a ban on the American Pitbull Terrier repealed in Wilmington based heavily on actual stats (not Rep’s opinions) and the testimony of Professionals. This Bill could be fought the same way.

  • bjjdenver says:

    Again, this could have steam due to people’s lack of knowledge about the sport. My guess, is that very few people who are holding office, actually know what mma is, and form their opinions without educating themselves. Probably not just an mma problem, but more of a problem with politics and elected officials in general. The practice of voting the “party line”, lumping things together to pass the legislation and politicians riding other politicians coattails, are creating tons of problems. In the world we live in, I find it outrageous that our elected officials are focusing on steroids, videotaping practices, toughman contests and mma regulation. Perhaps they need to look in the mirror a little harder.

  • mo says:

    Sam, not to ignore this situation, but what is the status of legalizing MMA in PA. are they waiting for NY to leaglize so they can follow suit? it seems awfully ignorant to ban MMA when everyone is legalizing it, and hopefully all the MMA in Delaware can travel up the road to NJ and host from there. I am sure NJ would welcome them with open arms considering their budget issues. Is the roadblock to legalizing in PA the fact that it isn’t that important to the commissions here or what?

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I suspect this is motivated by individuals or entities like boxing promoters who stand to lose if MMA is permitted in Delaware. I doubt this legislation just popped up out of nowhere. It could be very informative to contact and interview some of the Delaware MMA community to find out what’s going on behind the scenes.

    And before we get too tough on McCain, hasn’t he backed off his comments, which were made in the old days before there were uniform rules, etc.?

  • Dave says:

    Delaware…..we’ *excerpt from Wayne’s world*

  • ultmma says:

    Quote from sherdog article discussing MMA regulation in AZ and similar bills in other states 6/16/ 2008 by Tommy Messano

    With talks of MMA regulation in New York heating up over the past week, Paton encourages voters and MMA fans alike to get involved in the political process if they want to see MMA legalized in their community.

    “It’s no different for MMA than it is to get the pothole in your road fixed,” Paton said. “One, find out who your representatives are and call them. Just let them know what you think. Two, this is an election season not just in Arizona but in New York and around the country. The best way to get your way is to get the right person elected in the first place.”

    Its pretty simple and Sam made it even easier for everyone by providing the contact info for the Rep.

    Contact your local the rep. in your area and let your voice be heard, They won’t ever know any better until the people in their districts inform them.

    Stay on top of your elected officials or they are bound to go off in do something stupid like up there in Delaware

  • Roy says:

    Well… first a Delaware representative casts a deciding vote against online poker sites last week, now they want to ban MMA as well? Great…

    Frankly, I’m ashamed to live in Delaware. Maybe that’s why I work in Maryland. But I’ve trained MMA for a short while… I cannot understand why lawmakers are so afraid of the sport.

    Looks like I’ll be writing TWO letters to two different members of Delaware’s legislature this week.

    On behalf of the stupid state I live in, I apologize to everyone else. We suck.

  • Jackyl says:

    Hah! This is the same state that has no liquor tax so at all of the border exits there are about 20 liquor stores. So they have no problem creating a situation where people from neighboring states come to there state just to get drunk. The stats thing stated above is something I agree with. If you present someone with hard data, it’s hard to make an argument against it. My argument always falls to Arturo Gatti. All three of his fights against Ward were pure bloodbaths. I also remember the fight where his eyes were swollen shut like Rocky and somehow he dug down and got a KO. On the flipside watch him get KO’d by Gomez. Brutal!!

  • This is so stupid im fighting in a cagefight on the 19th they had better not cancel this show.

  • Josh says:

    Banned in Delaware!? Holy crap, that means that the three people that live there can never attend an event! MMA is surely doomed!

  • Bill says:

    just to let everyone know its not going to be banned here is the article

    MMA avoids ban in Delaware
    Amendment to new legislation will allow regulated competition
    By ALEXANDER PYLES • The News Journal • July 2, 2008

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    Mixed martial arts fighters and promoters in Delaware said Tuesday they were relieved that legislation originally written to ban MMA in the state was amended late Monday night.

    The “Toughman Legislation,” which the General Assembly approved before its session ended early Tuesday, will ban Toughman competitions throughout the state. But rather than also banning MMA, the legislation will allow for an MMA adviser to be placed on a Combative Sports Advisory Council, which would be created by the legislation.

    Rep. Robert J. Valihura Jr., R-Beau Tree, House Bill 501’s primary sponsor, said many MMA participants complained to him about the bill’s original language.

    “So, we tried to reach a compromise,” he said.

    If Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signs the bill into law, the council will identify a national sanctioning organization to oversee MMA in Delaware, according to James Collins, director of the state Division of Professional Regulation.

    The United States Kickboxing Association regulates amateur MMA in New Jersey, for instance.

    Collins said that because the governor has not signed the bill, there is no timetable for beginning the search for a sanctioning organization. It is unlikely, he said, that the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission will oversee MMA in Delaware, as it does boxing.

    “I’m thrilled. It’s going to protect the public,”

    Valihura said. “After the body meets, they will be able to sanction these things similarly to the way boxing is regulated in the state.

    “There will be no more unregulated MMA exhibitions in the state.”

    Nick Perez, a New Castle mixed martial artist, said he left a message for Valihura on Sunday urging the lawmaker to reconsider the proposed ban of MMA.

    Perez, 33, was happy to hear that the bill was amended to reflect the distinction between Toughman and MMA.

    “We’re not guys coming off the street to go fight one night,” Perez said. “That [revised bill] seems a lot more fair to the people who compete in the sport.”

    Toughman features elimination tournaments between amateur participants who have no boxing experience or training.

    Jack Murphy, the owner of Jack’s Kickboxing Gym in Newark, said he is pleased that legislators seem to be moving toward regulation of the sport.

    “I think it’s great; this is what I’ve been pushing for for the last several years,” Murphy said, adding that he has appeared before the House and the Senate twice to discuss the regulation of MMA in Delaware.

    But with no timetable for regulation, Murphy is only cautiously optimistic.

    “I brought it up to them three years ago, and I’m still sitting here,” he said. “But at least now their eyes are open.”

    Perez, meanwhile, is concerned that having to travel outside Delaware for fights, even temporarily, will make it more difficult for him to advance his MMA career.

    “I had a mind-set to establish pro status in the next two years. In order to do that, I have to compete,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger. It’s kind of hard to put my life on hold for them.”

    Murphy said he is glad the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission will not govern MMA in Delaware. He said there are enough knowledgeable instructors of MMA disciplines in Delaware to form a state-based regulation committee.

    Murphy also said it’s unnecessary to enlist a national organization to regulate the sport in Delaware.

    “Out of this gym alone, we could fit that bill and handle it,” he said. “We are our own state; why don’t we be our own state?”

    Jeff Mitchell, an instructor at Elite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Newark, said that quickly regulating MMA in Delaware is important so the state’s youths can continue to learn about the sport.

    “It’s a good sport, it’s a safe sport,” Mitchell said. “I just hope they don’t sit on it.”

    Contact Alexander Pyles at 324-2805 or [email protected].


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