State sanctioning moves closer

The Baltimore Sun

Efforts to get mixed martial arts sanctioned in Maryland took an important step forward yesterday when a Senate committee gave a favorable nod to a bill that would allow the state's athletic commission to oversee the sport.

After receiving approval from the committee for education, health and environmental affairs, the bill will move to a vote by the Senate. A House version, sponsored by Del. Kirill Reznick, a Montgomery County Democrat, has a committee hearing tomorrow afternoon.

"It's good to see all the hard work that we've put in paying off," said John Rallo, who co-owns the Ground Control martial arts gym in Canton and has spurred the sanctioning effort. "I've been as proactive as possible with this issue and tried to arm my guys and the athletic commission members with as much information as possible. We've tried to make sure we have the answers to questions before they come up."

The state athletic commission has the power to oversee boxing, kickboxing and wrestling, but not mixed martial arts, which is an amalgam of all three along with submission grappling.

The sport is best known from the reality programs and pay-per-view cards promoted by Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Local gym owners say they're tired of sending MMA trainees to Delaware, New Jersey and Virginia for fights. The bill's sponsor, Baltimore Democrat Joan Carter Conway, agreed.

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