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WEC – grass roots efforts paying off, is sanctioning in California next?

Keith Mills has a brief article and results from this weekend’s World Extreme Cagefighting (“WEC”) show on the Full Contact Fighter website. I did the color commentary for the show along-side Ryan Bennett, and as usual I had a blast working with Ryan.

One of the things I liked most about the show was that most of the fighters were from the local area. I have been reporting on and commentating at fight shows in central California for over three years now, and there has been a great rise in local interest in Mixed Martial Arts during that time. Much of that is a result of the WEC’s and International Fighting Championships’ having consistently promoted shows in the area to build a base of fans and fighters.

Promotions plant the seeds for the sport to grow when they consistently run shows in the same communities. Last weekend’s WEC show was evidence that their work is paying off.

Ironically, though, the fighter that caught my attention the most was from Ensanada Mexico, not central California. Olaf Alfonso wowed the crowd by submitting Randy Bowers by arm bar from the guard after being mounted and dominated for most of the fight. This win comes follows an exciting victory in the last WEC where he overcame a broken nose to knock out Randy Spence. Olaf brings an intensity to the ring that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

After the fight, Olaf said that he is looking forward to finding an opponent who will stand up and trade punches with him. I am, too.

By the way, the buzz at the show was that with Arnold coming into office, there was a good chance the Mixed Martial Arts rules passed by the State’s Athletic Commission would finally into effect. As you may know, the Athletic Commission has formally approved sanctioning the sport on two occasions, just to see the Governor’s office refuse to allow the rules to go into effect. That has resulted in MMA shows having to run on Indian casinos, which are not under the Athletic Commission’s jurisdiction, but which are often quite far from major cities.

Can we realistically hope to see a MMA card in Los Angeles in 2004? Nothing is sure, but things are looking up again.

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