Michigan MMA Strongly Regulated

January 29, 2010

John Morgan of MMAJunkie has an interesting article that discusses the long road to hoe that Michigan and its regional promoters have experienced over the last three years. Joe Donofrio, running “Malice at the Palace” this weekend explains even with regulation, it’ll be tough to make a profit in the current environment because of certain fees and restrictions.

Donofrio credits the UFC with helping Michigan regulators realize the importance of bringing the sport to the state, but he also feels the sport’s biggest promotion may have added a few regulations that make true grassroots growth of professional MMA very difficult.


“It wasn’t exactly as I hoped it would be,” Donofrio admitted. “There were so many stipulations that would make it difficult for a small-time promoter to be successful. One of them was you have to have a minimum of 30 rounds (on a card), which would be 10 three-round fights. You can’t have a pro-am card. The fee to do the show is $2,000 compared to $125 for boxing. And then the fighters have to have a CT scan and EKG, all that stuff.


“So it’s kind of difficult for anybody to be profitable doing a professional show here in Michigan. That was probably by design.”

Donofrio, who is the first to admit he’s not a medical professional, thinks perhaps the extensive testing could be reserved for older fighters and those who have shown previous reason for concern. Nevertheless, the promoter admits fighter safety is of the utmost concern, and simply hopes the commission will at least revisit the fees one day in the future.


In the meantime, Donofrio is pleased that unlike a handful of states still looking to pass regulation, Michigan will no longer have to concern itself with unregulated events.


“I think the regulations in Michigan are pretty strict, but I think the rogue promoters need to be put in check,” Donofrio said.

Payout Perspective:

There are two schools of thought here: 1.) the regulations are unnecessarily tough and will impact the growth of the sport in the state, or 2.) the strict regulations are a way of separating the cream from the crop and preventing the riff raff from holding cash grab shows that more often than not just take from the sport instead of giving back.

I’m of the opinion that it’s not a bad thing to force promoters to actually draw up a business plan and force them to execute it in order to make a profit. MMA is not a money tree – it should be no different than any other business.

One of the keys to success for MMA in the long term is establishing stable, nurturing environments at the grass roots level; the feeder systems that the UFC, Strikeforce, and other organizations can use to develop talent. The more consistency MMA can get from these feeder organizations, the better off it will be in the long run.

It’s also worth mentioning that, in a lot of cases, these smaller organizations are the first live experience that many people have with MMA. Generally, live MMA is a superior recruiting than television, but if it’s done poorly, it can also work in the opposite direction and turn people away from the sport.

These restrictions will weed out the bad actors and leave the stable promotions behind, which is ultimately in the best long term interest of the sport.

3 Responses to “Michigan MMA Strongly Regulated”

  1. Rogue promoters in Michigan? - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums on January 31st, 2010 7:46 AM

    […] The more money a promoter has to spend sanctioning a fight is less money for the fighters. Michigan MMA Strongly Regulated : MMAPayout.com: The Business of MMA So is it good for the sport? __________________ So-Cal KOTC […]

  2. Peter on January 31st, 2010 8:05 AM

    This promoter sounds like a little bit of a motor mouth trying to be the flagship of MMA for Michigan claiming it’s needed and he’s all about it but it’s too hard. Let’s see how he does on his first pro event? Will he be a leader for the sport in the state or just another Rogue Promoter? Let’s see how this “Malice in the Palace” comes off?

  3. Joe Blaim on February 1st, 2010 9:32 PM

    I wonder if this will open the door to a Detroit UFC event. Perhaps featuring Michigan State alum Rashad Evans? I’d sure love to see a high profile event here to raise the visibility of MMA.

    I know technically it wouldn’t be the first UFC event in the D but it’s been so long it might as well be for considering a the typical first appearance boost in attendance.

    Even if UFC does like the option, though, they might just prefer to wait for local organizations to pave the way first.

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