Regulating Mixed Martial Arts in
Indian Country

– By Andrew Hofstetter

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), or combative sporting events, has grown since the 1990s. MMA events have become more popular over the years at tribal casinos and resorts. With this in mind, tribal governments, tribal gaming commissions, and casino operations have made tremendous strides to educate themselves about the sport. Tribes have developed medical and licensing protocols, training and certification programs, rules and regulations, and ordinances to mitigate risk and liability to the tribe.

We must first understand how combative sporting events began, for over time there have been various types that are all related in one form or another which include the following:

  • Boxing, profoundly portrayed by matches of Muhammad Ali. Boxing dates back to the original Olympic Games of Greece in 688 BC. It became immensely popular in England during the 18th and 19th century. The first regulating rules were the Broughton’s Rules, which were put in place by the champion Jack Broughton in 1743. These rules were intended to protect the fighters in the ring and provide a baseline foundation and structure for the sport. The most prevalent rules to this day are the London Prize Ring Rules, which set the standard for ring size, established the 30-second knock down, and prohibit head-butting and hitting below the belt among other rules.

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