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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

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Readers Blog: Wisconsin's Combative Sports Insider

Opposition to Assembly Bill 308 Restores Effort to Kill Wisconsin's Anti-MMA Bill Once and for All

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In mixed martial arts a wounded opponent is still a dangerous one. Anyone wanting proof need look no further than Anderson Silva's Hail Mary submission over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 or Cheick Kongo's stunning knockout against Pat Barry back at UFC on Versus 4.

Likewise, a fight outside of the cage should never be assumed over until the very end. This is the point being driven home by opponents of Assembly Bill 308 - legislation that is still hanging around Congress and could open the door for MMA events to be banned within 1,200 towns throughout Wisconsin.

Referred to as "Wisconsin's Anti-MMA Bill", AB-308 was authored by Representative Patricia Strachota and co-sponsored by Senator Glenn Grothman in October of 2011, just a year removed from Wisconsin's adoption of mixed martial arts regulations designed to create statewide safety and regulatory standards.

Interestingly, both Strachota and Grothman were initially supportive of the movement toward regulation as Strachota was in the Assembly that unanimously approved the law and Grothman voted in favor of the bill both on the Senate floor and in the Senate committee. The sudden flip-flop has baffled many around the state including world-renowned trainer Duke Roufus.

"It's puzzling why the sponsors of AB-308 have changed their view of MMA after there was such overwhelming support for establishing statewide safety and regulatory standards in Wisconsin," said Roufus.

Horrible Timing

But the biggest problem for some critics of Strachota and Grothman's proposed bill lies in its timing. Wisconsin's political system is currently in a state of confusion and disarray as Governor Scott Walker prepares to face the state's inaugural gubernatorial recall.

"At a time when hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens are unemployed and with significant economic issues, it's discouraging that our elected officials are wasting taxpayer dollars on legislation to ban a sport instead of focusing on the state's pressing issues," Roufus said.

Another frustrating aspect of Strachota's bill is that is has been launched at a time when supporters of Wisconsin MMA least expected it. Following a relatively slow year for the sport due to the transition period that accompanied the regulations, the state has just begun to schedule multiple events a month and reassert itself as one of the top locations for mixed martial arts.

"MMA is here and growing at a fast pace in Wisconsin, with hundreds of MMA matches every year. As more and more of Wisconsin's best athletes become involved in MMA, it is simply bad public policy to allow the sport to be banned in towns across the state, especially after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the creation of statewide standards in 2010," said Roufus. "This is not the direction our state should be heading, and our group asks that supporters of MMA in Wisconsin make their voices heard by telling their legislators to oppose AB-308."

AB-308 Rapidly Losing Support

Progress has already been made over the past few months towards putting a stop to "Wisconsin's Anti-MMA Bill". After numerous phone calls to his office and heavy opposition, one of AB-308's co-sponsors immediately removed his name from the bill.

Rep. Mark Honadel, who serves the Oak Creek and South Milwaukee district, announced his removal from Strachota's campaign back in October. Honadel's staff member Bonnie Deering informed US Combat Sports of the switch less than a day after the opposition of AB-308 began its public push.

"I just wanted to drop you a short note to let you know that Rep. Honadel has removed his name from AB 308," wrote Deering. "Rep. Honadel has been a long-time supporter of MMA and does not want to see any limitations put on this industry. He will not support AB 308. Thank you."

Honadel isn't the only office holder to officially make a stance against Strachota and her proposed MMA ban. Representatives Karl Van Roy (Green Bay and Howard), Rep. Tyler August (Delavan, Lake Geneva, Walworth, Williams Bay) and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (New Berlin and Hales Corners) have all publicly opposed AB-308 over the past few months. But the fight isn't over yet.

Anyone who wishes to oppose Strachota and her bill to weaken the sport of mixed martial arts within Wisconsin are encouraged to contact their local representatives before a public hearing of the Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs is called. Heavy resistance to AB-308 could possibly kill the bill before it even gets to this point and save Wisconsin taxpayers time and money.

Remember, your voice is important and could be the one that keeps MMA legal within the state of Wisconsin. Please click here more information on how to further the opposition of Assembly Bill 308. Listed below is the name and number to the Representative in your area. Call them immediately and let them know that their support of AB-308 could possibly lose your vote.

Dale Kooyenga -Brookfield, Wauwatosa, Greenfield, Elm Grove, West Allis - (608) 266-9180

Joan Ballweg - Wautoma, Ripon, Coloma - (888) 534-0041

Janet Bewley - Ashland, Bayfield, Mercer, Hayward, Hurley - (888) 534-0074

JoCasta Zamarripa - Milwaukee's Fifth Ward, Walker's Point, Easter neighborhoods - (888) 534-0008

Chris Danou - Mondovi, Osseo, Trempealeau, Alma - (888) 534-0091

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