History of MMA in United States: Connecticut

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This is the seventh 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. 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. This is the history of Connecticut MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on Colorado.

History of Connecticut MMA

Connecticut, the fifth state to join the Union, is a land of multiple commissions. Where some states such as Alaska have no commission at all, Connecticut has three with two being tribal commissions. The state commission (Connecticut Dept. of Emergency Services & Public Protection) only began sanctioning MMA bouts in 2013. The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation and the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Commission have sanctioned MMA events for years with the Mohegan Sun hosting UFC 35: Throwdown in January 2002.

The Land of Multiple Commissions

Though Connecticut has three major commissions within its borders, it is the Native American commissions that see the most work. Built in 2001,The Mohegan Sun Arena,  hosted its first MMA event just one year later. The Mohegan Sun Arena is inside of the Mohegan Sun Casino.

The state’s sanctioning body outside of the Native American lands rarely hosts MMA events and has yet to host a UFC or Bellator event. Many promoters have critiqued the outrageous fees charged by the commission making it more feasible to do business in neighboring states. Jimmy Burchfield, the president of CES (Rhode Island based), has publicly stated the cost to do business in Connecticut is just too much compared to other states.

“Since Connecticut always had Mohegan and Foxwoods, as well as being within 90 minutes of Jersey, Rhode Island, and Mass, it really wasn’t that hard to find fights,” Ryan Quinn of American Top Team and former Bellator standout told MMASucka. Do to this, the Tribal lands do quite well in the world of MMA for Connecticut fighters. The necessity for the state commissioned lands just is not in demand due to the relationship the Tribal lands commissions have developed with promoters.

Potential Future Fight Sites on State Commissioned Land

“The only big venue outside the casinos really is the Hartford Civic Center [now known as the XL Center.] MMA would do well there,” Quinn told MMASucka. “Maybe the O’Neill Center in Danbury would do well.” The XL Center is ranked 28th largest among all college basketball arenas and could easily host a large scale UFC pay-per-view event. The O’Neill Center can seat nearly 4,500 and is located in southwestern part of the state and could easily host a Fight Night Event.

Events in Connecticut

The Mohegan Sun has hosted more Bellator events than any other venue with 17. Bellator 2, which occurred April 10, 2009, was the first Bellator event to take place in the arena. The event feature tournament bouts in the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions. The main event featured Wilson Reis winning by unanimous decision over Henry Martinez. Bellator 11 was also featured from the Mohegan Sun and featured Lyman Good winning the welterweight tournament and featured Uriah Hall, David Branch, and Jake Ellenberger in non-tournament bouts.

Bellator 39 featured the first championship match for the Mohegan Sun. The bout featured Eddie Alvarez defending his title by unanimous decision over Pat Curran. The most recent Bellator event in the arena was Bellator 194 which took place February 16, 2018. The main event featured the second bout of the heavyweight grand-prix tournament, Matt Mitrione defeating Roy Nelson by majority decision.

The Mashantucket Commission hosted UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Mousasi at the Foxwoods Resort Casino on September 05, 2014. It was the fifth event to take place in Connecticut under the UFC banner and the first since 2005. Souza defeated Mousasi by third round submission to take the main event. Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa took Fight of the Night honors with Lauzon taking the bout by second round TKO.

Fighters and Camps From/In the State of Connecticut

Current free agent, Ryan Quinn, spent much of his professional career fighting within the states borders. His debut came at USFL: War in the Woods 2 in February 23, 2008 where he defeated Chris Santacroce by first round submission. He has fought over ten times in the state, mostly under the Bellator banner. Quinn formerly trained at American Top Team CT before transferring to the main base at Coconut Creek, Florida. Hopefully, we will see Quinn re-sign with Bellator or enter the UFC.

UFC light heavyweight star, Glover Teixeira, has made Danbury home. Teixeira trained at and American Top Team CT before creating his own gym, Teixeira MMA & Fitness in Danbury, CT. Teixeira was a long time training partner of UFC veteran Chuck Liddell.

Aside from Teixeira MMA & Fitness, many fighters go through the doors of American Top Team CT. Luigi Mondelli is the head coach who is currently a 4th degree black belt. Fight Magazine listed Mondelli as one of the best five mma coaches you should know.

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

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Matt's love and passion for martial arts began at the age of four with Taekwondo. Matt later trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu while serving nearly ten years in law enforcement. Matt has just recently discovered his passion of writing on mixed martial arts.


  • Luigi Mondelli says:

    Thank you everyone from MMASucka for the mention. I am honored and thankful. I wish you all lots of success in 2019 Happy New Year

  • Ernest says:

    The article really lacks on how big of an impact Connecticut had on MMA . No mention at all of Connecticut resident Kipp Kollar who practically brought all of New Englandand the country together with his NAGA tournaments and his MMA promotions known as Reality Fighting and Mass Destruction.

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