On Friday Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office announced he had so far signed 129 bills approved during the recent General Assembly session. A bill that would legalize mixed martial arts fighting (a.k.a. cage fighting) in Connecticut was not among them. If the governor did not sign the bill over the weekend, we have this advice for him; don't.
Editorially this newspaper has been consistent in its opposition to this activity. Competitions take place in a cage. Unlike boxing, which limits blows to above the belt and sends a competitor to a neutral corner after downing an opponent, mixed martial arts has few limits. The rules, such as they are, encourage a competitor to keep punching, kicking, elbowing and twisting a prone opponent until they surrender, become incapacitated or are rendered unconscious. There is often plenty of blood.
Because of their sovereign status the state's tribal casinos are able to sponsor these events. Promoters, backed by the management of venues in Hartford and Bridgeport, have lobbied for years to allow licensing of the fights outside of the casino properties. This time legislation has reached the governor's desk.
We urge him to take the high road and veto the bill.
"I don't like the stuff," he said when asked about MMA. He went on to say he had not reached a decision on whether to sign the legislation.
Due to language backed by Senate President Donald Williams Jr., the state may not see fights - outside of the casinos - even if Gov. Malloy signs the bill. The provision would make promoters liable for health care costs associated with fighters' injuries. Seems reasonable enough; if promoters are going to make money off combatants beating and injuring one another, they can certainly provide the medical coverage to care for these athletes.
But a promoter quoted by the Hartford Courant did not find it reasonable at all.
"We wouldn't promote a show within a jurisdiction that would require that. You're taking on a ton of liability," Joe Cuff, a promoter at Realty Fighting, which has organized events at Mohegan Sun, told the Courant.
Well, that says a lot about the "sport." Give me the money, but not the liability.