Dan Severn vs. Ken Shamrock battled in Wyoming 17 years ago. If the state has their way, the UFC will once again return.
While the biggest events in UFC history will likely never take place within its borders, Wyoming recently became the latest state to legalize MMA and took a somewhat controversial step by creating an MMA-only governing board -- the first of its kind in the U.S.
Governor Matt Mead signed the bill into legislation last Thursday, dropping the amount of states with no such legal welcome for the sport down to five. It was the fifth time that such legislation was attempted to be put through with boxing promoters providing opposition in previous attempts. State Rep. Bryan Pedersen (R) focused solely on MMA and thus avoided that this time around.
However, the controversy is with local promoters. Here's an interesting twist from Jeremy Pelzer of the Casper-Star Tribune:
The MMA board will be paid for by taking 5 percent of the gross receipts from each MMA fight in the state. Some fight organizers said that could lead some promoters in the state to stop holding events.
Stephen Alley, an MMA promoter who has held fights in Casper since 2006, said attendance at those fights has declined in recent years to the point that an additional fee would be devastating.
"If they bring in a commission, most of the people that you see operating right now, they won't be around," he said.
The three-person board begins work on July 1st. Currently, there are approximately 20 events held throughout the state, which is the second least densely populated in the country at just under 600,000 total residents.
In their "previous life", the UFC ran their sixth ever event in Casper, drawing 2700 fans for a July 1995 event that was headling by Ken Shamrock defeating Dan Severn in just 2:14 to win his first UFC Superfight title. Oleg Taktarov defeated Tank Abbott to win the UFC 6 tournament. They never returned.