Future of combat sports in Georgia uncertain - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Future of combat sports in Georgia uncertain

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ATLANTA -

Combat sports in Georgia have taken a major blow.  As it stands now, there will be no fights in the state after December 31.  

The popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) continues to grow in Georgia, as does the sport's ability to produce revenue.  But a political fight outside the ring has some questioning the future of combat sports here.  

It all started with the resignation of Andy Foster.  For five years, he was Georgia's man in charge of approving match ups in combat sports ranging from boxing to MMA.  Now, members of the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission are questioning the credentials of the man appointed to replace foster by Secretary of State Brian Kemp.   

Kemp picked Steven Lindsey to fill the vacancy on an interim basis.  Lindsey attended his first commission meeting this week, but it turned contentious when the board questioned his qualifications.  

Then on Thursday, Kemp reacted by naming another man to oversee Lindsay's work.  Kelly Farr did the same job back in 2007, but Commission Chair Don Geary still isn't satisfied.  He calls Farr's appointment a knee-jerk response by Kemp "to get out from under the public scrutiny of appointing an unqualified person."  

"He's now appointed another unqualified person," said Geary.  "That doesn't fix the problem."

"We do not approve the fights in the Secretary of State's office," said Kemp.  "We do the administrative work supporting the commission.  They have the regulatory work authority to approve the fights, and as long as they do that, We'll be there to support them-- we'll be ready on fight night."

But the board chairman insists they will not allow any fights in Georgia until after the end of the year, unless a qualified person is appointed.  That leaves the promoter of Wild Bill's Fight Nights wondering whether or not the show will go on.

"So at this point in time, the state of Georgia will have no economic income from MMA or boxing fights in fights in 2013 until Brian Kemp does his job and appoints someone with knowledge that they feel safe with," said David Oblas of Undisputed Productions.

The Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission has one more meeting scheduled in December.  FOX 5 tried to reach out to the UFC on Friday, but they said the had no comment about the possibility of returning to Georgia.

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