Maryland moves one step closer to sanctioning MMA
According to the AP, Maryland House Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery) introduced a bill today to sanction MMA in the state. House Bill 795 now joins Senate Bill 649 as measures that will hopefully soon pave the way for legal MMA contests in this state.
With the success the sport has enjoyed the last couple of years (read dollar signs), it was inevitable that the Old Line State would eventually get in line with its neighbors Washington, D.C., and Virginia, which have already sanctioned the sport.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data for 2006 (the last year data is available), Maryland is ranked number one in the country in median household income. With the rising popularity of the sport, it only makes sense to make sure that this income is spent within the state rather than forcing fans to travel to D.C., Virginia or Atlantic City for the nearest MMA events.
The state is already home to a number of successful academies producing pro talent such as Lloyd Irvin's Academy in Camp Spring and Ground Control in Baltimore. By holding pro MMA competitions in the area, the sport will also be able to attract some of the area's deep pool of athletic talent (that produces bumper crops annually in football and basketball) to MMA.
There's no doubt that Baltimore, Maryland's largest city, is a prime spot for the UFC or any other major MMA promotion looking to hold an event on the East Coast. The city, which has experienced a big-time renaissance this decade, is located ideally off I-95 about midway up the East Coast and within easy driving distance of D.C., Philly and New York.
Baltimore is already home to two major pro sports teams (the Ravens and Orioles) and attracts a number of conventions, concerts, and even professional wrestling events throughout the year. There's also talk of building a brand new arena to replace the aging 1st Mariner Arena. A new arena along with all the new hotel rooms being added in and around the city could easily handle the 15,000-20,000 people who usually descend on the largest MMA events in this country.
By the way, I grew up in Montgomery County (raised in Silver Spring and graduated from Montgomery Blair High School), so it doesn't surprise me that it took someone from that county to come up with this sort of enlightened legislation.
Of course, I'll be watching these developments closely. Marylanders, wouldn't it be nice if you could potentially walk to a MMA event rather than fly to Vegas or drive to Atlantic City?