History of MMA in United States: Massachusetts

Massachusetts MMA
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: (L-R) Kenny Florian kicks Jose Aldo during the UFC 136 event at Toyota Center on October 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

This is the 21st of a 50 part series documenting the history and current state of MMA for each of the 50 states in the United States of America. You can find the rest of the series to date here. Each part will chronicle the history of MMA as well as several notable fighters and camps in each state. This is the history of Massachusetts MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on Maryland.

History of Massachusetts MMA

Massachusetts, the sixth state to join the Union, was one of the last handful of states to legalize MMA but has held several UFC events. The state also has several regional promotions that are very successful in the area. Although the state is known for its strict medical requirements for amateur fighters, it has had one very unfortunate death during an event in 2017.

Massachusetts State Athletic Commission

The MSAC is a five-member board responsible for sanctioning all combat sports bouts within the state. The commission is relatively new being MMA was not signed until November 2009 to be legally sanctioned making it the 42nd state to legalizing MMA. The commission has been in the news in the last couple years with a huge rule mix-up at UFC 220

UFC 220 Incident

UFC 220 card, which took place in January 2018, a miscommunication led to some of the bouts being run under the new Unified Rules of MMA, while other bouts were run under the old Unified Rules of MMA. Reports state a commission official told Mark Ratner, UFC vice president of regulatory affairs, that the state had not adopted the new rules. In actuality, the state adopted the new rules and had been using them for a whole year. Several of the referees sought out Ratner after hearing Joe Rogan say on the broadcast that MASS was following the old rules after a few bouts already taken place using the new rules. It was later discussed and decided to stick to the old rules because that’s what was stated on the broadcast.

Major Organizations Visit Massachusetts

In the nine years that MMA has been sanctioned in The Bay State, the UFC has held five events within the state. Bellator has only been in the state for one event. Large size regional organizations such as CES and Cage Titans have held events in Mass.

UFC Makes Their Visits

The UFC’s first visit to Boston was in August 2010 inside the TD Garden for UFC 118. The 14,000 plus in attendance witnessed a handful of great bouts including the appearance of professional boxer James Toney taking on MMA legend Randy Couture. The card was headlined by a lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and B.J Penn. Edgar successfully defended the crown with a unanimous decision victory. Couture made quick work of Toney showing the world it would not be that easy for a boxer to step over into the world of MMA. Couture finished Toney with an arm triangle in the first round. Gray Maynard met home-state fighter Kenny Florian in a number one contender matchup. Maynard won by unanimous decision to set up the amazing back to back fights Maynard and Edgar would have.

A McGregor “Homecoming”

The UFC would again invade the TD Garden in Boston on their third visit to Mass for UFC Fight Night headlined by Conor McGregor. McGregor called Boston, “Ireland #2” due to the high Irish population in Ireland. With the victory of Denis Siver in the main event, McGregor was guaranteed a title shot against the featherweight king at the time, Jose Aldo. The Fight of the Night actually went to a Fight Pass fight between Sean O’Connell and Matt Van Buren. O’Connell won the matchup with by third-round TKO.

UFC 220: The Most Recent Visit

The fifth, and most recent visit, came in the form of UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou in the TD Garden on January 20, 2018. The card featured two title fights with Stipe Miocic defending his title against Francis Ngannou. The other was light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier defending his title against Volkan Oezdemir. Miocic took Ngannou the distance retaining his title by unanimous decision. Cormier made much quicker work of Oezdemir with a second-round knockout. Fight of the Night went to the main card matchup of Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos. Kattar won the bout with a third round TKO.

Bellator Comes to Town

Bellator beat the UFC to Massachusetts hosting Bellator 17 on May 06, 2010. A much smaller venue was the host to Bellator. The host site was Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre in front of about 1,000 fans. The main event featured former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez defeating Josh Neer in a catchweight matchup by second-round submission. The co-main event featured another star-studded matchup with Pat Curran defeating Roger Huerta by unanimous decision.

Fighters and Camps In/From Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts has provided many great submission fighters such as Kenny Florian and the Lauzon brothers, Joe and Dan. PFL middleweight and former CES champion, John Howard, is born and raised in Massachusetts.

The Man Behind the Desk

Current UFC of Fox analyst and third-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt, Kenny Florian, has always been a fan-favorite among diehard fans. Though he has never held a title in MMA organization, Florian, is a multi-time NAGA and Grapplers Quest world champion. Florian is also a cast member from the original season of The Ultimate Fighter. He competed in the middleweight division for the show. Along with middleweight, he has fought in the welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight division. He has had three shots at UFC titles but came up short all three times. Florian has recently opened the Florian Martial Arts Center in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The Fighting Brothers of Mass

The 34-year-old Brockton native, Joe Lauzon, has been competing in the UFC for over 12 years. He has also collected 14 “of the night” bonuses throughout his illustrious career. Though Lauzon also never won a UFC title, he has also been known to put on an amazing fight and display his solid ground skills.

Dan Lauzon, the younger brother at 30 years of age, has only fought in the UFC three times but has a solid professional record of 17-6 with 16 finishes. At one point, Dan won eight fights in a row, all finishes. Dan has not competed since 2015.

Sityodtong Gym

One of the most famous gyms in all of Massachusetts is Sityodtong Gym located in Boston. The gym is run by former Muay Thai champion, Mark DellaGrotte. DellaGrotte is known and respected worldwide for his ability to teach Muay Thai. Kru Yodtong considers DellaGrotte to be one of the top representatives of Muay Thai worldwide. Mark has cornered and trained fighters such as Florian, Marcus Davis, Patrick Cote, and many others.

Part 22 of the 50 states series will be the state of Michigan. Check back with MMASucka to keep up with the series.

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