50 Part Series of the History of MMA in United States: Arkansas

Luis Pena represents Arkansas MMA
Luis Pena stands in his corner during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated on February 9, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is the fourth of a 50 part series documenting the history and the current state of MMA for each of the 50 states in the United States of America. This is the history of Arkansas MMA. Each part will chronicle the history of MMA as well as several notable fighters and camps in each state. States will be completed in alphabetical order. Be sure to check out the previous part on Arizona.

History of MMA in Arkansas

Arkansas, the 25th state to join the Union, may not hold any significance in the grand scheme history of MMA but this year was one of change. Arkansas will be the first state to utilize tablets for their judges, moving away from pen and pad judging. The state is also home to some young talent that could put a bright star on the map for the state.

Arkansas State Athletic Commission

The Arkansas State Athletic Commission is the governing body which sanctions all mixed martial arts contests within the state of Arkansas. The Commission consists of seven commissions. The commission has made one huge stride which will catch on with many other states in the near future.

Arkansas is the first state to utilize electronic judging for MMA and boxing events. The judges are provided with Dell tablets and insert their scores via the tablet. Judges normally write their scores for each round and it is submitted to the commission round by round on pieces of paper.

Patrisha Webb, Chief Inspector for the ASAC stated to KARK news, “Our computer adds it up for us, tells us if it’s a split decision, minority draw, anything.” ASAC is hoping this can garner some attention from the larger MMA organizations to bring shows to their state. Webb also stated, “Yes we are a small state and yes, we’re in the South but we are here. We want bigger shows. We want Bellator. We’re getting ready for that.” With the good of the ASAC also comes some bad.

Boxer Blood Testing Incident

During a boxing bout that occurred on November 11, 2017, in Camden, Arkansas, it was later discovered that one of the competitors was able to compete being HIV-positive. Though the fighter submitted paperwork stating he was HIV-negative, he is also listed in the Fight Fax, a federal registry required by federal law, by the state of Florida as being suspended for being HIV-positive.

Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) president, Mike Mazzulli, called out the ASAC on the incident claiming they broke multiple federal laws in the way the incident was handled. ASAC has since updated its policy which went into effect in March 2018. The new policy requires blood testing for HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. The notice on the ASAC’s website also states the test results must come directly from the original source, no more fighter or promoter reporting of tests to the commission. Tests are also only valid for six months.

Young Fighters on the Rise in Arkansas MMA

There is no better display of Arkansas MMA talent than the UFC’s current season of The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated. Undefeated featherweight prospect, Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell, had a great showing on TUF making it to the semi-finals. His personality was on full display making him a fan favorite. Mitchell is also very dangerous on the ground with eight of his nine victories coming by submission.

Another huge talent displayed on TUF this season is that of “Violent Bob Ross” Luis Pena. Unfortunately for Pena, he was forced off the show with a broken foot despite winning. Pena will be in action inside a UFC octagon after all. He will take on Richie Smullen on the TUF 27 Finale card on July 06, 2018. The 4-0 lightweight will look to make the most of his UFC opportunity and continue his fanfare.

Part five of the 50 states series will be the state of California. Check back with MMASucka to keep up with the series.

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