A bill to legalize and regulate “mixed martial arts” gained committee approval Tuesday, with only a handful of members on the Public Safety & Security Committee voting against it.
“The name itself cagefighting should tip you off to the kind of brutal sport it is,” said Rep. Steve Mikutel. “I find it inconsistent. Throughout this legislative session we are trying to reduce violence–I feel this goes against the grain of what we’d be trying to do.”
The bill cleared the same committee last year, but didn’t win passage. The sport combines various forms of martial arts like judo, karate and kickboxing and the measure would regulate it in the way boxing matches are regulated, requiring licensing of sponsors and participants, as well as establishing safety standards.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, a vocal gun control advocate who has weighed in on the legislative efforts to reduce violence that Mikutel mentioned, previously submitted testimony in favor of the bill, arguing events at Webster Bank Arena would help the state’s stagnant economy.
“While objections to the Mixed Martial Arts have been raised due to the violent nature of the sport, I don’t believe that this issue alone should prohibit the legalization,” he said. “Football and boxing also have well-documented histories of injuries…yet both are legal in the state of Connecticut.”