Amateur “mixed martial arts” bouts would be subject to some new state regulations if a bill pending at the statehouse becomes law. Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is the bill’s making backer. “This bill has a real potential to make it through the legislature considering some developments that have been occurring across the state,” Dotzler says.

Dotzler cites two recent incidents. One involved a 20-year-old Nebraska who was injured in a fight in Shenandoah last year and is paralyzed as a result. Another involved a young man from Waverly who entered a mixed martial arts ring in Dotzler’s hometown of Waterloo.

According to Dotzler, the kid lied about his age — he was under 18 — and wound up having his eye socket crushed. In mixed martial arts bouts, competitors use kick punches, wrestling holds and other boxing techniques. Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, says there appears to be a “no-man’s land” in the world of mixed martial arts.

“The professional are regulated,” Dearden says, “but the amateurs are not.” Dearden backs the bill, which would require those who participate an amateur mixed martial arts bout to show proof they’ve had a recent physical and that they’re at least 21 years old.”I think it’s in the state’s interest to help protect its people,” Dearden says.

The bill which will be considered by a senate committee next week would require training for mixed martial arts referees and it would require event hosts to have medical personnel on hand for the bouts, in case someone gets hurt. Promotes of amateur mixed martial arts bouts would have to get a state license, for a fee. In addition, Dotzler wants to ensure competitors are at least 21 years old.

“When you’ve got teenagers in there, I don’t know if their decision making process is quite where it needs to be and I know when I was in high school my adrenaline was overworked. You know, I wrestled and I didn’t mind fighting. I think I enjoyed it ’cause it was a like status symbol and I think, you know, ‘I’m a tough guy!'” Dotzler says. “But this is very dangerous and, without the rules, people can get severely hurt real easily.”

Dotzler was a wrestler at Cedar Falls High School in the mid 1960s.