The state Senate approved a bill yesterday that would allow the Maryland State Athletic Commission to oversee mixed martial arts.
If the legislation also passes in the House of Delegates and is signed by the governor, it would clear the way for MMA events to be staged in Maryland.
John Rallo, the Canton gym owner who prompted the legalization effort, was thrilled at the vote.
"If we would have tried to get it legalized without supplying the stats and making the experts available to testify, I don't think it would have ever gotten passed," he said. "Education was the best way to get what we wanted, and I believed that all along."
The state athletic commission has the power to oversee boxing, kickboxing and wrestling, but not mixed martial arts, which is an amalgam of the three along with submission grappling.
The sport is best known from the reality programs and pay-per-view cards promoted by Ultimate Fighting Championship. It is sanctioned in 32 states, including Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.