This is the 26th 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 Montana MMA. Be sure to check out the previous part on Missouri.
History of Montana MMA
Montana, the 40th state to join the Union, is one of the last states to the party that is mixed martial arts. The state has yet to host a major organization (UFC or Bellator.) This would be because the state does not have a commission or sanctioning body. Promoters in the state must bring in their own independent sanctioning body.
Though the state does not have a commission to oversee MMA, they do have the Montana Board of Athletics. Permits can be applied for through the board but they do not sanction. Fusion Fight League, the state’s largest promotion, has held events since 2010. On May 15, 2015, Fusion Fight League held the first ever sanctioned event within the state. The event was appropriately titled, Fusion Fight League: Epic Evolution.
The First Sanctioned Event
Fusion Fight League brought in an independent sanctioning body to help solidify MMA in Montana. States in the Northwest will ban a fighter who fights in Montana because of it’s sanctioning issues. By helping fighters compete in sanction bouts, it is helpful in attracting fighters to the state who no longer have to worry about suspensions. The Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in Billings was the host location for this monumental event, Fusion Fight League: Epic Evolution. Four titles were on the line and the main event was headlined by Tara LaRosa and Katie Howard in a 120lbs bout. LaRosa walked away with the unanimous decision.
Fighters In/From Montana
Though the state has had it’s “whoa’s” with the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) and larger organizations for it’s sanctioning issues, Montana has birthed a few big names that have made their way up the UFC ranks.
‘The Sweetest’ MMA Fighter From Montana
One of the hottest young stars in all of MMA is Helena’s own, “Sugar” Sean O’Malley. Since his amateur days, O’Malley has competed in both Fusion Fight League and the other predominant Montana organization, Intense Cage Fighting. Though only currently 23 years old, O’Malley took the UFC world by storm after his performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender’s Series. Since that debut where he earned his UFC contract, O’Malley has gone 2-0 with two unanimous decision wins. He is set to face Jose Alberto Quinones at UFC 229 in October 2018. O’Malley his known for his flashy personality that transcends his fighting style inside the cage, to his outside life.
“The Dean of Mean” Montana-Born
Though he never competed in the state, “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine was born in Butte, Montana. Jardine competed in 30 professional bouts, winning 17. He has competed inside the UFC octagon 13 times as well as competing for Strikeforce. Jardine earned two Fight of the Night honors. He also is a one time Knockout of the Night winner for his Forrest Griffin knockout at UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz. Jardine was known for his quirky fighting style and heavy hands.
Part 27 of the series will be the state of Nebraska. Stay tuned to MMASucka for the whole series as well walk one step closer to number 50.
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