(Pictured: Wyoming’s remaining residents react to the great news.)
After becoming the 45th state (we’re looking at you, New York) to regulate mixed martial arts last Thursday, when current Governor Matt Mead signed House Bill 87 into law, Wyoming will become the first state to assemble a commission focused entirely on MMA. As we know, boxing and athletic commissions carry this responsibility in many of the states that have legalized MMA, and this is where Wyoming ran into trouble in the first place. In the past ten years, state lawmakers have attempted to reinstate the position of State Boxing Commissioner, who would then be placed in charge of MMA regulation, five separate times, but were met with overwhelming opposition from the state’s boxing industry.
The bill to legalize the sport was unanimously approved on Thursday by Wyoming State Senate and House of Representatives, and though MMA was never dubbed “illegal” in Wyoming, all fights held within the state until this point were not recognized on fighter’s records due to a lack of a sanctioning body to regulate the sport.
Now here’s where things get interesting: the committee will consist of three individuals appointed by Gov. Mead and will be funded by a five percent tax on gross receipts from all MMA events. This stipulation apparently has local promoters and fighters up in arms, fearing that the tax will discourage big name promotions like the UFC from visiting the state. Because, you know, Wyoming was next on Dana White’s agenda after he figured out this whole “international takeover” thing. Wyoming hosts an average of 20 mixed martial arts events a year, with the average crowd holding strong at around 500-700 attendees. Local fight promoter Stephen Alley told the Casper Star-Tribune that he believes this additional fee will crush the already depleted MMA scene, telling the publication in an interview that, “If they bring in a commission, most of the people that you see operating right now, they won’t be around.”