The mark of any mainstream sport is the bifurcation of its amateur and professional ranks. How many of us remember Adrian Peterson rushing for almost 2,000 yards as a true freshman at the University of Oklahoma, a feat he is currently on track to complete for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings? Tiger Woods cleaned up on golf’s amateur circuit before hitting a record under par at his first major championship victory at the Masters in 1997. Amateur sports allow fans to see the growth and maturation of their favorite athletes. It is a rich tradition that in theory allows athletes to hone their skills absent the economic minutia of professional sports.
Mixed martial arts wants to be considered a mainstream sport. Even its combat sports sibling, boxing, has lauded amateur competitions such as the Golden Gloves and the Olympics. Because of this, many think amateur MMA is a worthy endeavor. The view of amateur MMA is that it affords up-and-coming fighters the same benefits of typical amateur competition: more rules, greater margin for error, increased parity and an overall better environment to hone one’s craft. Closer examination of the rules and how the events are in practice, however, reveals that amateur MMA is a costly endeavor for the fighters involved.
Like professional MMA, there is no nationwide governing body that regulates amateur MMA. Unlike professional MMA, however, a unified rules system for amateur events has not gained major traction. Individual state athletic commissions are the arbiters on how MMA is run within their jurisdictions. Some states have their own rules, some states have adopted the Association of Boxing Commissions’ amateur MMA rules and some states have exercised zero oversight.full story