Alabama MMA Regulations: The Tumultous Campaign of 2012 Continues
The tough times in Alabama continue as mixed martial arts remains mired in a slump during the state's first year of sanctioning mixed martial arts and boxing event. Constant changes are underway for nearly everyone involved in the sport including fighters, promoters, and the Alabama Athletic Commission itself.
While most interested parties expected some rough patches within the beginning of the regulatory period, it was hard to foresee the immediate issues being this challenging as multiple promotions have closed their doors, Commission members have been laid off, and revenue has been disappearing from nearly every entity related to Alabama MMA as a whole.
Two promotions have already decided to close up shop for the year within Alabama. It isn't all bad, however, as three promoters from Georgia have entertained the idea of hosting events in Alabama. AXC and AXCF decided to shut down Alabama operations while Georgia's The Fight Party, Lights Out Promotions and SportFight X did bring their show into Alabama territory.
As well, SportFight X relocated their entire company to Alabama's Black Belt Region and has made it their new home. They have hosted two successful shows this year in Huntsville and Birmingham while The Fight Party and Lights Out have held only one.
In the first part of the year the Alabama Athletic Commission worried about staying afloat and immediately implemented a new five-percent Ticket Fee Tax to all Amateur MMA ticket sales. This will go into effect in August and is currently in place on all Professional Boxing Cards as well as Professional Mixed Martial Arts.
The Commission has had to go the extra mile to bring on staff and license all new MMA officials, judges, and referees which had to be done before sanctioning the first professional MMA event. In fact, the schedule became so hectic that the AAC was licensing officials on the night of the event.
Another attempt at bringing in more revenue for the state – although it ultimately failed – saw the Commission try and regulate and govern professional wrestling within Alabama. The Bill eventually died on the House and Senate Floor and has not been discussed since. It is still unknown if it will be revisited next year.
The Alabama Commission also was forced to lay off its first employee due cutbacks. Many other officials chose not to renew their licenses after not being paid throughout the entire 2011 calendar year. A feeling of helplessness has been rampant over the lack of funding.
To add insult to injury news broke this past week that the Commission will also lose its Executive Director in September 2012 the current Director has expressed interest not to renew his contract. This means the Alabama Athletic Commission's Executive Director's contract will go up for open bid very soon.
The 2012 campaign has also saw the reappointment of one commissioner after Mario Davis' position expired in July 201 in the form of Dr. John D Marshall of Tuscaloosa. Announcements also came today from the Alabama Secretary of State's Office about a new public meeting set for the Alabama Athletic Commission on August 29 in Montgomery.
Although the announcement stated regular commission business it is truly unknown what will be be discussed until 2:30 pm on August 29th. The Commission has only had one or two other meetings since the regulations came into effect in January.
At the present time there are only two MMA shows on the books for the remainder of the 2012 in Alabama. New Alabama promoter Kristina Jones of Outlaw Promotions will be hosting her first show on August 18th in Orange Beach at The Wharf – Event Center while Strikehard Productions will be bringing their show back to the Tuscaloosa Killer Buzz arena for the last time on August 25th.
SHP will be losing their venue as it is scheduled remodeled and demolished. Rumor has it SHP will possible be taking their show on the road. Some really exciting locations are being thrown around, none that can be discussed right now, but USCS will bring it to you when they publically make their choices. SHP in the past has been known to throw some of the largest fights under the Big Top Tent anyone has ever seen.
Alabama rumors also say that three new promoters will be coming to Alabama as they currently working out the details to bring their show into the Alabama market place before winter. Jason Sanderson has shown an interest to bring his show to North Alabama.
Professional Fighter Sammy Collingwood and his Ultimate Cage Fighting Company announced it will be returning after a long break and their first show will possible be in Crestview, Florida and come to Alabama in 2013. Collingwood has been a staple for MMA in South Alabama for the past several years and it will be exciting to see UCF bring their show back.
On another positive note, after announcing just a month ago that the AXC would be on hiatus until 2013, rumors have it that the organization wants to make its comeback bigger than ever. Many are saying it could be the biggest show in state history yet time will tell if that prediction comes to fruition.
In terms of fighters the tumultuous 2012 campaign has forced many competitors to head out of state to compete. No matter which way you slice it, losing these fighters to out-of-state promotions is a major loss of revenue for Alabama. Commission fees, hotel costs, restaurant and tourist shops have all felt the pain.
For months we have seen Alabama fighters head to Florida to fight and now the trend is to go to Mississippi and Tennessee to pick up a sanctioned fight. One group has decided to give Texas a try and on August 25th three fighters from Alabama will be headed to San Antonio, Texas to compete. For fighters wanting to better position their careers, the constant uncertainty isn't worth sticking around for.
As the Alabama Athletic Commission continues to work towards creating a more stable environment, fans, fighters, and promotions are growing more impatient. Hopefully the upcoming meeting on August 29th will provide some insight in how to fix these problems, but even that is unknown at this time.