UPDATE: The bill passed yesterday, making Rhode Island the latest state to legalize MMA. There is a lot of talent in the region, all that's left is the wait for a marquee show.
Rhode Island Senate Bill No. 622 is scheduled to be heard today. The bill has special significance because it would legalize MMA in the State of Rhode Island. At the time of this writing, i'm not sure of the status of the bill, but I don't see why it shouldn't pass. More information here: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText09/SenateText09/S0622.pdf
A cursory reading of the bill shows it to be surprisingly well written. One aspect that I loved is that even though there's a 10 point must system, it allows for rounds to be scored as draws.
The bill's passage is monumental because of Rhode Island's strategic location as a halfway point between New York and Boston and it's proximity to Connecticut. Add Providence's reputation as a fight town (see Pazienza, Manfredo and more recently Andrade) as well as the fact that its a fun place to be in to it's locational advantages , and there is serious potential for Rhode Island to be a major MMA staging ground.
MMA in Rhode Island will be huge because as long as New York and Connecticut don't have legalized MMA, Rhode Island will be the regional magnet for all events.
Providence has an indoor arena and fight promotion infrastructure. The small size of the state allows for concentrated focus on an event. This is something that Boston won't be able to provide as attention is taken up by the major sports franchises. Providence is important because it is close enough for Boston fans to make the trek. Rhode Island also provides a proximate staging ground for gyms like Sitoyotdong in nearby Mass and their fanbases.
An interesting historical nugget, UFC 10 was actually supposed to be held in Providence. But thanks to the crusade of old man McCain, the event had to be moved overnight to Alabama. There are a lot of "what ifs" surrounding the event, given what effect the event would have had on MMA and future events in the region.
I have my fingers crossed that the bill passes and that Rhode Island can atone for UFC 10 by staging an event and rightfully taking it's place as a regional MMA hub.
I will update this space if more information becomes available.