Combat sports temporarily suspended in Okla.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Boxing, martial arts and pro wrestling. These “combat sports” have wide appeal in Oklahoma. But the State Athletic Commission will suspend licensing for all events after March. State Senator Clark Jolley said, “I think they panicked. They said we’re shutting down our doors.”

The decision is based on funding.

For nearly a decade, the Commission has collected tens of thousands of dollars from “Ultimate Fighting Championship” pay-per-view events.

Commission Director Joe Miller said, “Pay per view that the state receives is what runs the commission, two-thirds of our budget. Without that we cannot exist.”

UFC is threatening a lawsuit, suggesting the fee, which many other states do not collect, is unconstitutional.   

Sen. Jolley is trying to head off that lawsuit.

He told us, “If we keep collecting it, we are going to get sued and we’ll have to pay lawyer fees. My bill is to save taxpayers money in legal fees by getting rid of the fee we shouldn’t be collecting.”

But without that revenue, the Athletic Commission contends it would be unable to host safe events for promoters, fighters and fans.    

There are already a number of combat sporting events on the calendar for later this year, both in Tulsa and OKC. 

WWE Raw,for example, scheduled for Chesapeake Arena in October, could be in jeopardy if the commission doesn’t get things ironed out financially very soon.

State leaders say that would be a huge blow to thousands of wrestling fans who have already purchased tickets, eight months in advance.

According to Miller, “They should be concerned but don’t panic yet. Like I said, I think we’re going to come up with a solution.”

If not, combat sports may be down for the count in Oklahoma by the end of the month.