A Statutory Breakdown of Bellator’s Planned One Night Elimination Tournament

The one night elimination tournament is at the foundation of the history of modern mixed martial arts but the format has all but disappeared since the early days of the sport.

Today, Bellator MMA announced plans to host a one night 4 man elimination tournament in California.  Is that even legal in the State?  The short answer is yes.

While many states do not have a framework in place to allow one night tournaments given mandatory medical suspensions imposed by statute (you can click here to read about the questionable framework in place in Oklahoma who approved such a tournament last year), and with the ABC Medical Committee taking an express stance against such competitions, one night tournaments are indeed a rare occurrence.  California, however, has a specific statutory framework in place which allows such tournaments.

Here is the breakdown –

The California State Athletic Commission enjoys jurisdiction over “all professional and amateur…forms  and combinations of forms of full contact marital arts contests, including mixed martial arts“.

California’s Regulations specifically allow elimination tournaments in MMA with s. 503 of the Regulations reading as follows:

§ 503. Tournament or Elimination Format Contests – Selection of Opponents.

In any tournament or elimination format contest, the commission shall determine the initial opponents in the first round of the tournament by drawing names at the weigh-in.

Lastly, while California, like most other States, calls for mandatory suspensions after competition, they carved out an exception to this rule for tournaments with Section 515 of the Regulations stating as follows:

§ 515. Time Between Bouts.

Unless written approval is obtained from the commission, a fighter who has competed in a bout or tournament format event anywhere in the world shall not be allowed to compete in this state until seven days have elapsed from the date of that bout or event. This limitation shall not be construed to prohibit a fighter from competing in a tournament format event that requires the fighter to rest a minimum of 30 minutes between bouts. In a tournament format event, a fighter shall be examined by a physician before each bout.

With the passage of enough time everything old is new again!


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