History of MMA in United States: Indiana

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This is the 14th 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 Indiana MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on Illinois.

History of Indiana MMA

Indiana, the 19th state to join the Union, has contributed a solid group of fighters to the sport of MMA. Several of those fighters still compete in the biggest organizations in the world today such at Bellator and the UFC. Being the 16th most populated state, Indiana has a larger than normal population to be the home of many former, current, and up and coming stars.

Indiana Gaming Commission

The Indiana Gaming Commission-Athletic Division is responsible for sanctioning MMA events within the state. The commission is made up of seven members. An interesting rule to the commission is that no more than four members can be affiliated with the same political party. The commission must also comprise of one law enforcement member, a CPA, and one attorney. Indiana was the 33rd state to enact legislature regulating MMA. The bill was drafted by Senator Dennis Kruse and went into effect on July 01, 2009.

MMA Events of Note in Indiana

The UFC has made two visits to The Hoosier State along with Bellator making three visits. The last Elite Challenger Series event under the Elite XC banner took place in Hammond, Indiana.

UFC Visits to The Hoosier State

UFC 119, which took place on September 25, 2010, from the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, was the first UFC visit to Indiana. The nearly 16,000 fans in attendance witnessed a main event knockout as Frank Mir defeated Mirko Cro Cop in the third round. Ryan Bader defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by unanimous decision. Hometown fighter Chris Lytle defeated Matt Serra by unanimous decision. CB Dollaway took home Submission of the Night with his first-round guillotine choke on Joe Doerksen.

The last visit to Indiana was the UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2 from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The smaller crowd of 6,400 plus saw the rematch of Carlos Condit taking on Martin Kampmann. The first matchup went Kampmann’s way by split decision. It was also Condit’s UFC debut. Condit would take the rematch knocking out Kampmann in the fourth round. Former middleweight UFC champion, Robert Whittaker, actually suffered a split decision loss on the main card to Court McGee at welterweight.

Bellator Takes Over Indiana

Bellator 60, which took place in Hammond, Indiana on March 09, 2012, was the first visit to the state. The main event consisted of a featherweight championship match which saw Pat Curran knockout the champion Joe Warren in the first round. The event also featured four featherweight quarterfinal tournament matchups.

Bellator 84 was the last Indiana visit by Bellator. The event took place at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on December 14, 2012. The event was supposed to be the finals of the heavyweight and light heavyweight tournament. The light heavyweight final was canceled by the Indiana Gaming Commission because finalist, Marcin Held, was 20 years of age and you must be 21 years of age to enter a casino. The heavyweight final went on as scheduled with Alexander Volkov taking the victory over Richard Hale, also claiming the vacant heavyweight title.

Fighters and Camps In/From Indiana

Indiana is home to many big heavyweight contenders. Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finalist Matt Mitrione made Indiana home after his Purdue University football days. Todd Duffee, Jake O’Brien, and Dave Herman are other heavyweights with ties to The Hoosier state.

Indiana’s Greatest

Many will agree that Bellator welterweight, Jon Fitch, is the greatest fighter to come out of the state. The four year Purdue University lettermen was born in Fort Wayne. Fitch also served as team captain his senior year as a Boilermaker. So far in his professional career, Fitch has taken on 40 fights. He has won 31 along with one draw and one no contest. He made a name for himself in the UFC making his debut at UFC Fight Night 2. Fitch compiled a record of 8-0 before earning his shot at Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title. Fitch would make it to the decision at UFC 87 but would lose the bout. Fitch later shifted to the World Series of Fighting where he went 5-2 before rebranding as PFL. He would defend the welterweight title for his second title defense against Brian Foster at PFL: Daytona before vacating the title and signing with Bellator.

Indiana’s Up and Comer

Indiana raised and 3-0 professional Lance Wright is one of the bright up and comers from the state. Wright has taken the last year and a half off due to injuries and venue booking issues. He is ready for a resurgence in his career moving to Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado. “From my experience, Indiana fans have always been the best. The phrase ‘die-hard fans’ doesn’t give them the justice they deserve,” Wright told MMASucka. “Most of the time if you go to a smaller show you know at least one of the fighters who sold you a ticket. My pro debut I had a group of my fans rush to cageside and almost get kicked out of the venue. All the while each of them changing, ‘Lance, Lance, Lance.’ That’s how crazy things can get with rowdy hometown fans.”

Part 15 of the 50 states series will be the state of Iowa. 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.


  • George says:

    Hey Matt, let me know if you need some help when you get to Massachusetts and NH. I do a podcast and we have talked to a lot of the pioneers of the sport up here. You can use info/leads I have.
    Great Northeast Bjj Podcast

  • Matt Bricker says:

    I would greatly appreciate any help you can provide!! It would be an honor to work with you on a few states!

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