WWE accused of lobbying to keep UFC banned in Connecticut

By Keith Harris

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the proximity to New York, its stuffy image and being the home state of WWE, Connecticut is one of the few American states that still bans mixed martial arts events including UFC from being held in their jurisdiction. However, as Connecticut political journalist Daniela Altimari reports and James Caldwell publicised in the professional wrestling media, this may soon change thanks to Democratic State Representative Matthew Lesser introducing a bill to legalise and regulate MMA in Connecticut. Proving that fan lobbying of politicians can really work, Lesser’s bill was introduced thanks to a local MMA fan who brought the issue to his attention and convinced him of how illogical and financially counterproductive the current MMA ban is:

Lesser said he was spurred to raise the bill by a constituent who is an MMA fan.

“It doesn’t seem to make sense to tell fans from Connecticut that they have to leave the state to watch it,” he said during a brief interview Friday afternoon. MMA matches have been held at the state’s casinos, but cannot be legally held elsewhere in Connecticut.

Lesser says MMA could also boost the state’s bottom line. Average ticket sales for an Ultimate Fight Championship match topped $2.8 million in 2007. UFC, the company that promotes most of the top-ranked MMA matches, is also a major player in the pay-per-view market. Taxes on MMA gate receipts could provide “a pretty significant economic boom,” he said.

Massachusetts and Maine both recently legalized MMA, but New York is one of four states that has not. That provides an opportunity for Connecticut, given its proximity to the Empire State, Lesser said.


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