Update October 29, 2015 – Today the WSOF released the below ruleset for this tournament
Earlier today it was announced that the World Series of Fighting plans on hosting an 8 man, one night elimination tournament at the Comerica Theater in Phoenix, Arizona on November 20, 2015. This announcement comes shortly after recent failed plans to host such a tournament in Seattle.
Whenever a tournament is announced in a new jurisdiction my curiosity as to the legality of such events is triggered. As we learned, one day MMA tournaments are a felony in Washington, can be legally held in California, and have been held with questionable legality in Oklahoma.
What about Arizona? A quick review reveals that such tournaments are likely legal with a bit of commission discretion in the the Grand Canyon State.
Arizona’s Boxing and MMA Commission is, like all athletic commissions, a creature of stature bound to follow the laws that created them. Title 5, Chapter 2, Section 225 of Arizona’s Revised Statutes requires that MMA contests be held under rules that are “consistent with the mixed martial arts unified rules adopted by the New Jersey state athletic control board under New Jersey administrative code title 13, chapter 46, subchapter 24A”
In addition to adopting the New Jersey ‘unified rules’ the legislation requires that MMA bouts follow the State’s “rules adopted for boxing that are not inconsistent with specific mixed martial arts contest“.
Other than this the legislation seems to not specifically address whether elimination tournaments are allowed or not.
From here one must review New Jersey’s unified rules which also do not specifically allow nor prohibit one day elimination tournaments. Next, a review of Arizona’s boxing rules reveals that no prohibition exists for tournaments, however Rule 4-3-403 requires that “Unless special approval is obtained from the Commission, if a contestant has competed anywhere in a contest of six rounds or less, he shall not be allowed to box until five days have elapsed. Ten days must elapse after a bout of more than six rounds” which implies that tournaments are not allowed but gives the commission discretion to overrule this so long as a contestant does not fight more than a total of 6 rounds.
In short it appears Arizona can host this tournament provided that the Commission exercises its discretion following each bout and does not allow any contestant to fight more than a total of 6 rounds (or at least does not fight more than 6 rounds before commencing the subsequent bout).
With the revival of the tournament format everything old is new again in MMA. Athletic Commissions should consider reviewing their Rules and Regulations if they wish to allow one day tournaments and if so thought should be given to drafting specific legislation addressing the parameters for these events.