On July 1st of this year, South Dakota will officially become the 46th U.S. state to regulate mixed martial arts. The news was broken on Friday by reporter David Montgomery at the Argus Leader, who confirmed that S.D. Governor Dennis Daugaard will sign the bill creating an athletic commission in the state, despite his personal distaste for cage-fighting.
“One thing I’ve learned about this cagefighting, it’s going on now, and it’s going on in an unregulated fashion,” Daugaard told Montgomery. “I know some of the proponents of this bill made the argument that regulating it would create more safety than exists today, and I have to agree that’s true…Would I like this kind of thing to not occur at all in South Dakota? I would, yes. It doesn’t deserve the word sport in my mind.”
If you’ll recall, the proposal to regulate MMA in South Dakota was the subject of controversy last month, as Daugaard blasted “the bloody violence that those kinds of spectacles create,” while State Representative Steve Hickey torpedoed any chance for a civilized debate when he compared the sport to child porn, then got into an ill-advised blog war with Seth Falvo. Nevertheless, the athletic commission bill was passed overwhelmingly by votes in the South Dakota Senate and House of Representatives, and will now be signed into law by Daugaard. Score one for the good guys.
With the addition of South Dakota to the MMA map, only New York, Connecticut, Montana, and Alaska remain as the holdout states that don’t formally regulate professional MMA competition. Alaska lacks an athletic commission, though MMA events are still regularly held there. (Remember Gerald Fike getting slinky-KO’d? That happened in Fairbanks.) And of course, Montana remains a hotbed of flying-motorcycle vale tudo.