A bill legalizing "mixed martial arts matches," a brutish activity more aptly known as cage fighting, appears likely to sail through the legislature. The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, which weighed in since the activity will raise revenue, passed it along on a 46-4 vote. Anything to generate a few bucks, apparently.
A representative of the XL Center in Hartford told the committee that these spectacles - held in chain-link cages and which Sen. John McCain once aptly labeled "human cockfighting" - could sell out the large venue. This is more reason to be horrified than it is a justification to make the activity legal in Connecticut. Perhaps society is not as far removed from the "hunger games" as it would like to think.
Despite efforts by Ultimate Fighting Competition (UFC), the dominant marketing and promotional business in the mixed martial arts field, to polish the image, it remains a vicious activity. Unlike boxing, which limits blows to above the belt and sends a competitor to a neutral corner after downing an opponent, mixed martial arts has few limits. The rules, such as they are, encourage a competitor to keep punching, elbowing and twisting a prone opponent until they surrender, become incapacitated or are rendered unconscious.
One argument in favor of legalizing these exhibitions in Connecticut is that such events already take place at the Mohegan Sun arena. Run by a sovereign tribal nation, the casino can set its own rules. In this case, they've made a bad choice. So, the argument goes; why shouldn't the rest of the state get a piece of the action? Because sometimes setting a higher standard should be the priority.
Three of the four votes against moving the bill along were cast by local legislators - Reps. Ted Moukawsher and Elissa Wright of Groton and Sen. Andrea Stillman of Waterford. A skeptic might conclude they were seeking to protect the Mohegan's turf from competition, but the three said they simply did not want to sanction such a brutal form of entertainment.
They cast the right votes.