In August 2009, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) voted in favor of delegating governance of Amateur MMA to the California Amateur Martial Arts Organization (CAMO). CAMO is run by Jeremy Lappen and JT Steele of EliteXC fame. CSAC gave CAMO complete and exclusive control of amateur MMA including the authority to issue regulations.
Before CSAC delegated authority to CAMO, amateur MMA was for the most part deemed illegal in California, and most amateur shows were just considered "smokers" in the eyes of CSAC. The goal of delegating authority to CAMO was to make amateur MMA safe and legal. But is it now unaffordable?
Ever since authority was delegated to CAMO, I’ve heard numerous complaints from promoters about the new rules. They claim that the new rules will hamper amateur MMA because they make it just as expensive to do an amateur event as it is to do a professional event, and that the fighters have every incentive to just go professional right away under the new rules.
This weekend, Fight Academy in Pasadena will promote the first all-amateur event under CAMO’s authority, and I contacted the promoter John Bostick to discuss the new regulatory atmosphere in California.
The Fight Academy’s event is scheduled for January 29th in Pasadena, California, and will feature 8 amateur fights. They are not putting the event on at a venue; it will be at their gym. Even without renting a venue, the event is going to cost them roughly $7,000 in fees and costs related to meeting CAMO regulations, and that is before any other costs of promoting the event. According to Bostick, the goal of their show is to see if it’s actually possible under the new regulatory framework to put on an amateur show and make money or break even.
The new regulations are not cheap for fighters either. Registration with CAMO costs $100 per fighter, and then fighters must pay $125 for a physical and blood work. This adds up to $225 per year, which isn’t a lot on paper, but amateur fighters do not get paid to fight and most have no money left after training.
Another interesting twist in the regulations relates to the approved glove size: 8 ounces. Hardly any equipment companies make 8 ounce gloves; glove sizes are usually 4 ounces or 7 ounces. Upon registration, fighters get a pair of gloves and a rash guard. If they need new gloves, they are required to buy them through CAMO.
All fight fans in Southern California should make the effort to support local, amateur MMA on January 29th in Pasadena. If The Fight Academy can put on a successful event under the current rules, it will be good news for fight fans in California.