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Lift the Ban Watch: Arizona Edition

Chalk Arizona as another state that's joined the action:

Arizona joins Georgia and North Carolina as the latest states to adopt the unified rules for mixed martial arts combat. The Arizona bill was sponsored by Jonathan Paton, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. An intelligence officer for the U.S. Army Reserve, Paton became a fan of MMA during his infantry training in Fort Benning, Ga. When he returned to Arizona, he began working out at Arizona Combat Sports, one of the top professional gyms in the Southwest, which has produced such fighters as current WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner (Pictures) and TUF 7 cast member C.B Dollaway.

"I heard a lot of the fighters at Arizona Combat Sports complain that they had to leave the state to fight," Paton recalled. "By talking to other members of the House and Senate, I realized we could probably get this thing through. We had to negotiate a lot with the boxing commission, but once we took care of that we knew we were going to get it."

So, how does post-practice banter become a law?

"If you saw ‘School House Rocks,' when a bill becomes a law, it's really no different than that," he said. "It goes through committees and gets voted on in one chamber a couple of times, then goes over to the other chamber, then it finally goes up to the governor's office."

Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the bill into law on April 28, 2008. The idea was set in motion during Paton's time in Iraq. In July 2006, Paton made national headlines when he announced he was being voluntarily deployed to Iraq. Paton became the only state representative to win re-election while deployed in the Middle East.

"I was deployed to Iraq and got back in February of 2007. That's when I knew I wanted to do something with the rules," Paton said. "I started talking to people, and we officially introduced the bill in January. I was thinking about it in Bagdad. We were watching a UFC card, and all the guys were so pumped up about it. I also saw a card in camp Fallujah with the marines and I knew this is what we need in our state."

Ninety days after the state's legislative session ends, which by Paton's estimations should be no later than July 1, Arizona will officially adopt the unified rules of MMA. Expect fight cards in Arizona beginning in October to enforce the unified rules under the boxing commission's supervision.

Keep in mind there are already fights going on in Arizona with Rage in the Cage being in largest local promoter. This law would just make MMA fights subject to the Unified Rules of Combat. Still, though, the uniformity of safety rules, which facilitate the education process of understanding MMA and help incorporate basic medical concerns into the rules themselves.

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