A bill advancing in the legislature would impose new state oversight of so-called "ultimate fighting." The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill which would establish fees for those who promote and participate in "unarmed combat fighting" events.
Representative Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, says this will allow the state to enforce safety regulations for those who participate. "But also to make sure there’s someone present so that if for any reason problems would occur at that event between spectators and others someone would be there to make sure that nothing gets out of hand," Jochum says.
The license fee for promoters would be up to $2,000 for each event. The fighters themselves would pay no more than $150 a year, but the exact fee will be determined by the State Labor Commissioner’s office. "There’s about seven or eight other states that have already passed similar legislation and so they’ll be looking at those states to make sure that we’re not out of line," Jochum says.
The Legislative Services Agency estimates the new fees would raise about $165,000, money that would be used to hire new state workers to oversee the sport.
Iowa lawmakers have been fighting for several years about whether "ultimate fights" should be regulated by the state. "The Senate actually passed a bill last year to just take the state out of any kind of regulation of these types of events completely and when it came to the House Labor Committee the bill was voted down unanimously," Jochum says, adding House members argued there was a need to ensure the safety of both combatants and spectators at "ultimate fighting" events.
The bill under consideration this year puts regulations and fees in place for ultimate fighting that’s similar to state regulation of boxing and professional wrestling. Ultimate fighting or "unarmed combat fighting" is a sort of mixed martial arts competition that mainly started out in boxing rings erected in bars. Jochum says it’s now turned into professional sport and should be regulated like boxing and professional wrestling.