Like a recurring outbreak of a painful African strain of chicken pox, or a crazy stalker ex-girlfriend who also happens to be a government-trained assassin (and damn, why won’t the broad leave me alone?), the issue of getting MMA sanctioned in New York arises yet again. UFC president Dana White is making proclamations, lawyers are sparring over lawsuits, domestic violence organizations are writing letters, and the interminable wheels of the legislature are beginning their annual churn towards fruitlessness. Here, then, is an update. (Note: if you were to print all these updates out, staple them together and rapidly flip through the pages, the words would form an abstract animated picture of a fist slowly giving MMA fans the middle finger.)
-White issued a bold statement on MMAFightCorner’s radio show last week, declaring that this will be the year New York finally sanctions this great sport of ours. The word “guarantee” was used, which, if White were the Pope or President of the United States, would be pretty darn cool and somewhat ironclad. But alas, he is not… “I hope Dana is correct,” said Steve Koepfer, a New York-based sambo instructor and founder of the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York. “Sambo Steve” has been spearheading the grassroots movement here for the past few years, pushing for sanctioning by organizing sit-downs with Assemblymen and industry insiders. “We certainly have made incredible strides with the people and legislators of New York,” said Koepfer. “But, nothing in New York politics is a guarantee.” He added: “We may have some new opponents in key positions this year,” alluding to incoming legislators who are against having MMA in the Empire State. Ugh. When will it end?
-In November, attorneys representing Zuffa (and a number of other parties affected by New York’s lack of MMA sanctioning) filed suit against the State saying that the law banning MMA violates the Constitution worse than Quinton Jackson violates female reporters. Well, representatives for the State have begun their efforts to escape the courtroom submission attempts and mount a counter-attack. Justin Klein over at the FightLawyer blog has been monitoring the proceedings and giving his analysis – check it out here. The gist of it is that, thus far, things don’t look too bleak for Zuffa, et al. The central argument of the lawsuit is that the law violates some First Amendment protections (i.e., “Free Speech”), and at this stage, the State isn’t even trying to tackle that issue. To quote the great Nick Diaz, “Don’t be scared, homie.”
-Remember that letter the Culinary Union circulated stating that the UFC was bad, so very bad, evil in fact, and probably responsible for everything from the genocide in Rwanda to the high price of oil? The National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence apparently liked what they saw, so they sent a letter of their own to the members of the State Assembly. “We urge you to continue to uphold the ban on cage fighting, given that the UFC, the largest promoter of cage fighting events in the U.S., has failed to demonstrate that it is willing to ensure its fighters behave in a socially responsible way, even as the company expressly markets its fights and fighters to children.” Read the rest here. Personally, I’m not going to lose any sleep over this letter. Sure, it just adds more fuel to the fires that the opposition has been trying to stoke, but so what? If MMA gets sanctioned this year, it’s going to be because the lobbying machine is finally in sync with the legislating machine, and no trash-talking letter is going to affect that. Regardless, here’s Pete Lampasona over at TheFightNerd with a rebuttal.
-And last but not least, that faint creaking sound you hear is the noise created by the rickety wheels of the legislature, inexorably moving towards a session where bills are made into laws. Or not. Either way, here’s evidence that the State Senate has begun the process of approving their half of the MMA bill. Just keep in mind, the Senate has been cool with putting their stamp on the bill in the past – it’s the Assembly that’s been the problem.