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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: 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.

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