It's one of the hottest sports.
Mixed Martial Arts brings in a ton of money across the country except in Connecticut.
“It’s tough you got to push through it," said Jessy Miele, an MMA fighter.
Miele said the sport is tough and often violent. But, she sees it differently.
“If you understand, it’s an art, the technique that’s behind it," he said.
MMA combines boxing, wrestling, jujitsu and something called muay thai, which all demand physical and mental discipline.
“Tenacity, an mma fighter has to be the type of fighter you have to tell to leave the the gym, as opposed to encouraging them to come to the gym," said Russell Leak, owner, Underdog Gym.
Leak's gym is located in West Hartford. Miele trains there six days a week.
“I played soccer softball in high school. In college I played rugby," Miele said. "When I graduated I was like what am I going to do.”
Miele is 31 years old and from Waterbury. She said she likes the thrill of competition.
“They call her the widow maker," Leak said. "That really says enough, but that’s just one side of her that people see. I don’t think they see she has a full time day job and a master’s degree. She’s not just someone who gets in a cage and just bangs out. She a complete person.”
Miele is ranked first in the northeast, pound for pound. However, she can't fight in her home state.
“We are competing in Massachusetts, Rhode island and in new York now,” Leak said.
MMA has been around for more than 20 years, but it's really taken off in the past few years. Just about every state allows it.
While some may think MMA is illegal in Connecticut. It's not. But one condition keeps promoters out.
“Connecticut is the only state that has that clause in the bill, the only one," said William Vigil, Ammo Fight League.
Vigil said full medical and workers compensation would cost about $4,000 a year per fighter. He has about 25 fighters.
“I couldn’t afford something like that," he said.
“It pretty much makes it impossible for companies to come in and hold events outside tribal land," said Rep Chris Rosario, a Democrat representing Bridgeport.
The casinos are the only place where MMA is happening because state laws do not apply to tribal land.
Miele recently won a match in two rounds at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.
“We are hoping to strike that language and make it fair and available to everybody," Rosario said.
“It would be nice to know promoters have your backs," Miele said. "Just go to a fight and get hurt and you’re on your own.”
Still, Miele said she has mixed feelings.
She has insurance through her job. However, here are fighters who are on their own.
She said she would like to compete in Connecticut. Competitions can bring in six figures per match.
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