One of the most popular, and most controversial of extreme sports, could been finding a home in Sioux Falls. Next week, members of the South Dakota Athletic Commission will decide whether to allow ultimate fighters to enter the ring at the Sanford Pentagon.
The Resurrection Fighting Alliance wants to hold bouts at the Sanford Pentagon on August 22. Supporters see ultimate fighting as a financial boon to Sioux Falls, drawing big crowds of fans. But critics think ultimate fighting is too violent of a sport and shouldn't be embraced here.
Ultimately, it's up to the South Dakota Athletic Commission to determine whether mixed martial arts has a fighting chance in the city.
The Sanford Pentagon may soon be home to the octagon of ultimate fighting.
"It's a different event for us, and we are excited about having the possibility of this event in the near future," Sanford Pentagon General Manager Eric Larsen said.
Sioux Falls restricts where ultimate fighting events can take place. City-owned facilities and bars are off-limits. The general manager says the Sanford Pentagon is a perfect fit for fights.
"I think the size of the venue is a big part of it and just the quality of the facility. At 3,200 capacity, it was very attractive to the group," Larsen said.
The South Dakota Athletic Commission will require the ultimate fighting group to have one-million dollars in health insurance to cover not only the fighters themselves, but also any spectators who might get hurt.
"As the decision was made about having these types of events in South Dakota, I think the safety of participants and people involved is paramount and so I think you'll see high levels of scrutiny on any event to make sure the commission is fulfilling its obligation to try to ensure that safety," South Dakota Athletic Commission Executive Secretary Jennifer Stalley said.
The commission also requires ultimate fighting groups to have medical staff and an ambulance at the venue. Since South Dakota is new to the oversight of ultimate fighting, regulators want to make sure to get it right, from the beginning.
Larsen says the Sanford Pentagon has medical personnel available during all events at the facility. Some of the Sioux Falls bouts would be televised on a national cable network.
The five athletic commission members will vote on the proposal Tuesday.