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Happy 10th Birthday Sanctioned MMA


While the focus for tonight is WEC's Aldo vs Gamburyan after a Sonnen-centric couple of weeks of MMA reporting and the fallout from the incredibly disappointing UFC 119, a little piece of history deserves some recognition.

Pro Wrestlers such as Candice Michelle and the late Chris Von Erich were born on this day. Ric Flair made his WWF debut in 1991 for their Prime Time Wrestling TV show. And in 2000, the first US sanctioned MMA event took place in New Jersey under the International Fighting Championships banner - 2 months before the UFC had its first sanctioned MMA event (also in New Jersey) and 4 months before Frank Fertita, Lorenzo Fertita and Dana White bought the UFC from Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG).

The International Fighting Championship was formed in 1996 and always had an interest in rules and weight classes for MMA to make it more of a sport and to protect the fighters while still maintaining the action. According to their Wikipedia entry they were the first promotion to enact rules that were recognized by a State Athletic commission for an event in Mississippi in 1996 and formed the basis for what we know as the Unified Rules of MMA.

While the UFC today is the most influential promotion and have been leading the charge to open up other states and territories there's sometimes been a bit of revisionist history where the Zuffa era of the promotion appear to be the ones who got it sanctioned to start with and all the other promotions were running away from it. This misconception still gets play today and as recently as the UFC's first foray into Boston, Mass. where local newspapers reported the claim from interviews with Dana White without checking external sources.

With that aside, and despite all the problems fans, fighters and media have with commissions and their testing,  judging or refereeing, or maybe even the current ruleset, I think it's worth remembering the positive step the event in New Jersey made 10 years ago in helping the sport we cover and love become more of a sport and less of a spectacle.

With Ontario in Canada finally opening up, let's hope New York State legalises and sanctions MMA sooner rather than later. And let's hope it's not another 10 years from now, either.

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