This problem extends beyond South Dakota (there are four other states with the same affliction) - where the sport is not banned but also not regulated because there is no athletic commission - but this story is sufficiently worrisome:
While mixed martial arts isn't sanctioned in South Dakota, Ehresmann said that doesn't mean that the event won't follow professional guidelines. The city requires Ehresmann to hire six police officers to do security. Ehresmann said there will be separate areas where alcohol is served, there will be a doctor on hand during the event and there's also safety guidelines for fans and the fighters, many who are being brought in from out of town.
"I'm trying to reach out with some of the contacts I've made," said Ehresmann, who first got involved with the sport while he was living in San Diego. "I'm bringing in people who are elite athletes."
While interest in the sport is still growing throughout the area, Ehresmann said support is starting to come along. Saturday's event won't be a one-time thing, he said. He's planning other events for later in the year.
"We're starting to see more involvement in the community," he said. "If I want to be in Aberdeen the rest of my life, I want to see it grow."
So there will be security to control the crowd, but no pre-fight medical screenings? What about having a EMT and ambulance on location? Will that be there as well?
It's quite easy to dismiss the matter or even the larger problem of MMA in states where there is no athletic commission but also a very small populus. But the truth is there are some robust MMA scenes developing in many of these states, most notably Maine and Alabama. All that is required to upend this wonderful sport is one fight to make matters difficult. Certainly the UFC has built up some positivity equity in the media bank to prevent the collapse of the entire industry, but why welcome the hassle and negativity?
As for what can be done, the answer isn't so clear. I can speak out against allowing MMA to go unregulated, but the sun will rise tomorrow. Without coordinated campaigns among concerned parties or action by industry leaders like Ratner and his team at Zuffa, the best we can hope for at least in the short run is that we cross our fingers tight enough.