• FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | Amateur MMA + HB 1228 (2016)

    Answers about New Law Effective July 1, 2016

    • Download print-friendly version (PDF)  
    • NEW List of Approved Amateur Sanctioning Organizations (updated 7/6/16) 
    1. Do I need permission to promote or participate in an amateur boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Virginia? 
    2. What changed on July 1, 2016? 
    3. What did NOT change on July 1, 2016? 
    4. What exactly is an Amateur Sanctioning Organization? 
    5. How does an Amateur Sanctioning Organization become approved? 
       

    • AMATEUR means an individual who has never been paid to participate in a boxing or MMA event.
    • PROFESSIONAL means anyone who has ever received money or other compensation (not including a memento like a medal or small trophy) for participation in a boxing or MMA event.  

    1. Do I need permission to promote or participate in an amateur boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Virginia?

    • NOT FOR AMATEUR BOXING. As of April 20, 2016, amateur boxing returned to being exempt from state regulation for participants of all ages. For clarity, the legal definitions are also amended to separate boxing from the sports of martial arts and mixed martial arts (MMA).
    • YES FOR AMATEUR MMA. All amateur MMA will continue to be legally allowed only when conducted under the authority of a state-approved Amateur Sanctioning Organization (listed here). As of July 1, 2016, ONE entity is approved to operate as an Amateur Sanctioning Organization; the list of approved entities will be updated as additional applicants are approved. The 2016 law prohibits fight results from an event conducted by an un-approved Sanctioning Organization from being reported to the national database/official registry.  

    2. What changed on July 1, 2016?

    • Newly amended law (HB 1228) provides increased autonomy for approved Amateur Sanctioning Organizations by clearly delineating DPOR oversight role.
    • Instead of making third-party Amateur Sanctioning Organizations comply with all the regulatory standards that apply to professional MMA—as mandated by the original legislation passed in 2015—HB 1228 reduces their reporting requirements and compliance obligations by spelling out the minimum fighter safety criteria for which they are responsible.
    • Approved Sanctioning Organizations will submit a fixed annual application fee instead of paying a portion of gate fees collected from amateur events. (NOTE: All amateur MMA events that took place through June 30th are still responsible for paying outstanding gate fees.) 

    3. What did NOT change on July 1, 2016?

    • Amateur MMA participants must be at least 18 years old to compete.
    • Basic health and safety standards remain in place, such as pre-fight and ringside physicals for fighters; ringside doctor and ambulance at all amateur events; health insurance coverage; skills match-up determination; negative blood tests for HIV and hepatitis, etc.
    • DPOR alone will continue to oversee all licensing for professional wrestling, boxing, and MMA events, promoters, and fighters.

    4. What exactly is an Amateur Sanctioning Organization?

    • A DPOR-approved Amateur Sanctioning Organization is an official third-party entity authorized by the Commonwealth of Virginia to grant permission to eligible participants for amateur martial arts or MMA, pursuant to § 54.1-829.1.
    • Promoters, fighters, and other event participants in amateur MMA must work through an approved Amateur Sanctioning Organization and comply with its standards and operations.
    • Approvals for Amateur Sanctioning Organizations are issued for one-year terms and expire on December 31st of the year in which they are issued, with two exceptions: (1) approvals issued between July 1 and December 31, 2016, shall expire on December 31, 2017; and (2) approvals issued after November 15th of any calendar year thereafter shall on December 31st of the following calendar year. 
    • The DPOR Director may withdraw approval if an entity fails to comply with applicable legal requirements, after a fact-finding proceeding pursuant to the Administrative Process Act.

    5. How does an Amateur Sanctioning Organization become approved?

    • As a result of HB 1228, DPOR will no longer be required to verify as much information from organizations, which will allow for a more streamlined application and approval process. 
    • As of July 1, 2016, all sanctioning organizations--including those entities previously approved under the 2015 law to sanction events--must use the updated application form form (and submit the statutory $500 application fee) and obtain new authorization to conduct amateur MMA. 
    • A sanctioning organization shall not authorize or conduct any amateur MMA events until the DPOR Director grants approval. The 2016 law prohibits fight results from an event conducted by an un-approved Sanctioning Organization from being reported to the national database/official registry.
    Updated 6/30/2016