The sport of mixed martial arts has another state to do business with as South Dakota will sign a bill into law today, creating an athletic commission that will oversee the sport starting in 2013.
Efforts by Senator Mark Johnston and others in the legislature helped push through a bill to regulate MMA in South Dakota in late February but were unsure if the governor would sign the bill into law or not.
The law will create a state athletic commission to oversee events such as mixed martial arts, boxing and other combat sports. The state will create a budget of $95,000 to help get the commission started, and the law will take effect as of July 1, 2013.
Governor Dennis Daugaard has been staunchly against MMA events taking place in the state, but after the overwhelming vote by the state legislature, he decided to sign the bill into law.
Hypothetically, Governor Daugaard could have vetoed the bill, but judging by the numbers of votes that approved the initial order in the state legislature, they could have overturned the veto regardless.
According to an update today from the Argus Leader, Governor Daugaard remains against MMA as a sport overall but would rather see it regulated and managed as opposed to unsanctioned events taking place where fighters don't have the safety and oversight of a regulated event.
As Daugaard told Argus Leader reporter David Montgomery on Friday,
“One thing I’ve learned about this cagefighting, it’s going on now, and it’s going on in an unregulated fashion. I know some of the proponents of this bill made the argument that regulating it would create more safety than exists today, and I have to agree that’s true,"
The South Dakota situation first came under the spotlight when Representative Steve Hickey said "MMA is the child porn of sports". The MMA community reacted in a big way, and even the UFC planned on getting involved if it went any further, but cooler heads prevailed, and Senate Bill 84 passed and will now be signed into law this week.
South Dakota is the latest state to formally regulate mixed martial arts with only a few states left in the U.S. where the sport currently cannot legally compete. New York leads the way with their current ban on MMA, but lawmakers there as well as promotions like the UFC are fighting daily to get the sport legalized there as well.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report