Missouri approves measure preventing minors from entering MMA competitions

ST. LOUIS - Mixed martial arts is a tough, physical sport. A new Missouri measure, which sailed through the state House and Senate, is making sure kids under 18 can’t ever fight in a cage.

“With the sport growing in leaps and bounds right now, we needed something like this for the state of Missouri,” said Jesse Finney, owner of Finney’s MMA.

Finney, a former MMA fighter, is the biggest MMA promoter in the state. He said kids are training in record numbers and legislation was needed to monitor their activity. They can train, just not fight in a cage like adults.

“That's our biggest program here at Finney’s MMA,” he said. “You’re not going to bully people, this is for anti-bullying.”

Missouri Representative David Gregory (R-Sunset Hills), who sponsored the measure, said oversight of cage matches will be handled by the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration, the latter of which covers the Office of Athletics.

“We’re not adding new rules to the fighting industry,” Gregory said. “All we're doing is ensuring current rules and regulations are being enforced.”

The state will issue permits for events and send inspectors to events, just like boxing, wrestling, and kickboxing competitions.

Gregory said the measure has received universal support locally.

“Promotors, businessmen, gym owners, current fighters, former fighters, everybody is on board and thought this was a good thing,” he said.

The state is expected to have the rules in place to begin regulating fights by August 28.