South Carolina Becomes First State to Approve “Two vs Two” Mixed Martial Arts

Update September 29, 2015- The below event has now indeed taken place.  You can click here for details as reported at


“Arena Combat”, a two on two variation of mixed martial arts hosted in an arena equipped with padded obstacles, has recently been approved by the South Carolina Athletic Commission.

The SCAC has the distinction of the being the first North American State or Provincial commission to approve such a professional combative sport.  While a similar event has been previously hosted in Virginia, that was an amateur event that escaped scrutiny of the State’s athletic commission.

When approving events outside the norm commissions sometimes take liberties with the application of their rules but a quick analysis of South Carolina’s regulatory scheme shows that their State Commission is created with powers broad enough to approve novel forms of combative sports.

Unlike many jurisdictions that have a defined list of combative sports commissions can approve, South Carolina has taken a more open ended approach defining regulated combative sports as “any professional sport where participants intend and actually kick, punch, and use other techniques to injure or disable an opponent in an event or exhibition before an audience on a platform, a pad, or in an area surrounded by ropes or other markings.

The Regulations go on to not require contests to be one vs one (though they did think of reducing to writing the fact that you can’t fight an animal in the Palmetto State with regulation 20-24.3 reading “The Commission will not sanction events involving animals, other than human beings, nor issue permits for events in which they participate“.)

Moving on, Regulation 20-24.4 specifically allows the SCAC to approve an event for whcih “No Regulations Exist” reading as follows:

 When an application for a permit is received and no regulations exist for that type of event, the Commission may: 1. Deny the permit 2. Designate that regulation for a related combative art be used 3. Designate that acceptance of regulations of a licensed school be used, unless they conflict with the State’s laws and regulations. 

So, the lesson being, if you are looking to push the boundaries of modern combative sprots, South Carolina may welcome you so long as you don’t want to fight a kangaroo.

Here are the minutes specifically approving this Event –

Event Permitting Hearing: Arena Combat/Casey Oxendine

The Commission held an event permitting hearing regarding Arena Combat with the CEO of HipShow, Casey Oxendine, to approve Arena Combat under MMA. Blake Grice, head referee in South Carolina and Georgia, joined the meeting via teleconference to provide his input regarding an arena combat event that he 6 refereed. Discussion ensued regarding the safety of the fighters, rules of the event, number of doctor’s and EMT’s present and event insurance.

MOTION: Mr. McCullough made the motion to enter Executive Session to obtain legal advice. Mr. Shoemake seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

MOTION: Mr. Shoemake made the motion to grant a one time approval for an event permit upon compliance of the following conditions: Removal of Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight weight classes from the events, the presence of three (3) fight doctors, a 3 – 4 hour training session for participating referees, requirement of referees to use football style whistles, the head referee would have a microphone and that South Carolina’s Rules and Regulations are adopted as reference. Finally, HipShow has thirty (30) days to submit an application for an event permit.


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