British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, CombatSportsLaw.com founder, and deeply appreciated UGer Erik Magraken recently noticed that Ohio regulations could have been problematic for Saturday’s UFC 203.
The pay per view event at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, features the MMA debut of former WWE superstar Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks. Brooks will be fighting Mickey Gall, a brown belt in BJJ, with a 2-0 amateur record, plucked from his pro debut by UFC president Dana White as a possible opponent.
Gall was given a UFC fight vs. the unheralded Mike Jackson, presumably to see how he functioned in a big show, and with his second pro fight a win, the match with Brooks was made.
However, Executive Director of the Ohio Athletic Commission Bernie Profato runs a tight ship. Many athletic commissions have minimal standards for who is allowed to turn pro, but not so Ohio:
A mixed martial arts fighter will be required to have a minimum of five recorded amateur bouts with a winning record prior to being permitted to compete as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. They may appeal to the executive director or Ohio athletic commission to have this waived.
Brooks never fought as an amateur, nor has he competed in any combat sport. However, he is a stellar professional wrestler, which requires many qualities useful in fighting. And he has trained for nearly two years with the amazing Duke Roufus. And he has the support of the UFC, the largest stakeholder in the sport.
“CM Punk has a wrestling background similar to Brock Lesnar being permitted to fight in the past,” explained Profato. Lesnar also had an extensive Div I amateur wrestling background, but Profato noted there was a degree of trust with respect to the UFC’s matchmaker Joe Silva, in terms of bouts he constructed for the previous five UFC events in the state.
“There was also confidence in the matchmaker from the UFC and the past bouts he has submitted in previous UFC events in Ohio,” said Profato.
And Profato expressed confidence in Brooks’ head coach. In sum, Profato felt that having world-class pro wrestling skills, plus years training privately with one of the best trainers in the sport, plus the confidence of the UFC was equivalent to being a 3-2 amateur. That is reasonable.
“If it was that weak a fight, it would have been one of the preliminary-card fights. It’s a competitive fight,” said Profato to MMAjunkie. “It may not be one of the greatest fights on the card, but it’s a competitive fight.”