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Fusion Fight League hold’s first sanctioned MMA event in Montana history next weekend

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Fusion epic evolutionMixed Martial Arts in Montana is growing in legitimacy every day, yet some MMA insiders across the nation still consider the Treasure State as part of the sport’s wild west.

Not only because of our location, but because we’re an unsanctioned state — meaning there is no governing body here that collects fighters’ bloodwork and knockout/concussion history.

Having non-sanctioned fights in Montana also means referees and judges do not belong to a governing body, which can, if left unchecked, lead to less attention and scrutiny put on them.

Next weekend, however, Fusion Fight League in Billings holds Montana’s first independently-sanctioned event featuring a fight card of talented pros from around the northwest at “Epic Evolution.”

The main events see Tara LaRosa of The Ultimate Fighter taking on Portland’s Katie Howard along with Celine Haga of the famed Greg Jackson gym in New Mexico taking on Kyra Batarra of Las Vegas.
LaRosa was at one time the top-ranked female fighter in the country. She also participated in The Ultimate Fighter program on Fox Sports One in 2013.

Tara LaRosa squares off against Katie Howard next weekend at Fusion Fight League's Epic Evolution in Billings.
Tara LaRosa squares off against Katie Howard next weekend at Fusion Fight League’s Epic Evolution in Billings.

The event also sees two professional debuts, with Montana’s own Skye Folsome making his debut against Matt Cano of Denver’s Team Wildman.

Epic Evolution goes down at 7:30 p.m. At the MetraPark in Billings on May 15. Tickets can be purchased online here. The event also will stream live at www.fusionfightleague.com excluding the Billings area.

Terrill Bracken, Fusion CEO, said he sees the prospect of holding sanctioned bouts here a greater benefit than not, especially in terms of safety and as a way to attract quality opponents from other states.

“I think it is good to do everything we can do to ensure the safety of the fighters, and there are some drastic holes in the system, and just because an event is not sanctioned by the state doesn’t mean it’s not running things well,” he said.

Bracken added that an MMA organization does not need to be sanctioned in order for it to be considered safe. He said the real issue comes with other organizations who suspend fighters for taking part in an unsanctioned event no matter who it was through.

Fusion ring girls
Fusion Fight League ring girls at a recent event in Billings

“We have three organizations in Montana, for instance, that do a very good job of protecting their fighters – 221 Industries, Fight Force and us,” he said. “Where the problem comes in is when they go to fight in a sanctioned state and can’t because they received a suspension for fighting in a non-sanctioned fight.”

As for the fight card itself, Bracken said buzz has already been building about several of the matches, both pros and amateurs.

“Our events already are being publicized by “Women’s MMA News, which just became “Epic Women’s MMA News and they have 77,000 followers on Twitter,” Bracken added. “Then one of our amateur undercard posters online is getting a ton of hits, too – Jae Buckskin vs. Ireland “Bombshell” Moran. That’s already gotten 5,300 impressions, so we’re getting some great publicity going into this.”
Half of the fights are women’s bouts, and Bracken said there’s a good reason for that.

“We are placing a lot more emphasis on our women’s MMA and we’ll continue doing that for future shows,” he said. “Fusion has always been a strong supporter of women’s MMA from the very beginning … so we’re not doing anything new, we’re just doing it more because we’re starting to see more women become fighters and we’re better able to cater to them. Plus, oftentimes you’ll see a women’s fight be the fight of the night. They’re technical, fight hard and they don’t quit. You know, they make for exciting fights.”

Getting back to the sanctioning, Bracken said that all of the pros will do pre-bout bloodwork to test for blood-borne pathogens and diseases such as Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and AIDS.
He added that the amateurs may request bloodwork, also, but it is not required.

Fighters battle in a recent Fusion Fight League bout in Billings.
Fighters battle in a recent Fusion Fight League bout in Billings.

Bracken said while he doesn’t see Montana becoming a sanctioned state anytime soon due to the fact that the state government, he said, has no interest in becoming one mostly due to the added costs, he said there may be more instances of organizations holding independently sanctioned events by sanctioning bodies from other states.

“We’re running unified MMA rules and all of our results will be recorded and sent to MixedMartialArts.com with written verification that our event was a sanctioned event, so that’s been a really exciting development,” he said. “Whether to become sanctioned or not is really a huge issue and we can talk about ins and outs of it for hours and I can argue it both ways, but in terms of fighter safety, having sanctioned bouts helps out a lot.”

For more information on Epic Evolution, visit the event’s Facebook page here.

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