(We hear you there, bro.)
In a move that is sure to upset hundreds of thousands of dozens of people, the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, and specifically its Executive Director Joe Miller, recently issued the following statement to promoters statewide that has more or less banned MMA from the land of fried okra:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission will not be accepting applications for event permits for events scheduled after March 31, 2012. The Commission is faced with an out-of-state threat that, if successful, could greatly affect the Commission’s ability to provide for the public safety and for the health and safety of the athletes for future events throughout the state of Oklahoma. The Commission is currently trying to address legal and legislative efforts which have given us serious concerns about how we move forward with adequate oversight of Oklahoma’s boxing, mixed martial arts, and professional wrestling events. As you know, the primary focus of this agency is to make sure the athlete’s health, and safety is not compromised. We take this charge very seriously. The Commission and I will be working diligently to address these issues and develop a plan of action to return to a normal course of business.
Now why, pray tell, do you think Oklahoma would do this to us? Here’s a hint: Dana M.F. White.
Turns out, Oklahoma was imposing a four percent tax on all UFC pay-per-views purchased within the state. Whether or not the events themselves were actually held in Oklahoma did not change this fact. Though you would expect Dana White to be pissed upon hearing of this, the money itself was used to help fund the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, similar to how Wyoming is planning to fund the first ever MMA-only commission. As Miller explained:
It takes approximately $360K for the Commission to provide regulation for the approximately 275 events per year we regulate. The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission does not receive any state funding. We are funded solely from license fees, assessment on live events, and an assessment on pay-per-view events. We receive approximately $137K per year through license fees and assessments on live events. Receipts from Pay-per-view are approximately $240K per year. About $80K per year comes from UFC PPV. The UFC has threatened a law suit against our PPV law unless our legislature repeals our PPV law during this legislative session. The Commission loses either way. OK has been collecting on PPV since 2004 and this is the first time the issue has been brought to light. For the Oklahoma Commission to survive and for Combat Sports to continue in Oklahoma it will be up to the Oklahoma legislature to come up with a solution to the funding shortfall. You can do the math.
Seems understandable in the broader spectrum of things, right? Sure, it’s money out of the UFC’s pocket, and sure, they really don’t visit Oklahoma enough to need a lot of pull there (they’ve visited just twice in their existence, UFC 4 in Dedember of ’94 and UFN 16 in Sept. of 2009), but its money that allows the sport to legally exist in the state.
Well, apparently that sentiment wasn’t enough to make DW’s cold, dead heart grow three sizes that day, as it seems the Zuffa brass has decided to sue the Commission in order to get what they want, ie. that bread. You know, similar to what they’re doing with New York.
I may be in the minority here, but the UFC’s long running policy of “We’ll fuck you harder than you’ve ever been fucked before” (just quoting here) could really bite them in the ass in the near future. Let’s face it, a LOT of state governments are strapped for cash right now. The high school I attended, for instance, is eliminating all sports from its program next year due to a lack of state funding. Insane right? And if a state requires a multi-billion dollar company like Zuffa to fork over a minuscule percentage of their PPV earnings to help fund the committee that helps oversee the sport’s safety, it’s truly in the better interest of the sport, is it not? It’s not like the government is taking this money to buy another G5 for their fleet or anything. Until we find out that they are, of course, because we all know politicians are nothing more than swindlers in fancy suits.
It’s a give and take world is all we’re saying. The UFC provides millions of dollars in revenues to the states it chooses to hold its events in, and in turn the states provide a broader audience for the sport’s (not to mention the UFC’s) continued growth. And if a state decides to ban the sport, it all but kills the hopes of local fighters with upper-tier potential to compete in the sport they love, because not everyone can afford to travel out of state for each given fight.
In either case, the push for nationwide legalization of MMA just took a small, but noticeable step back.
Speaking of MMA legalization, check out this great bit of pro New York MMA propoganda created by FoxNews contributor (take it easy) Steven Crowder. The video, which features interviews with Pat Militech, Chael Sonnen and Renzo Gracie among others, lays out the history, safety, and the potential economic impact of MMA in a state like NY, as well as debunks the myths laid about by long time NY Assemblyman, Bob Reilly.
It’s times like these that we really, truly appreciate Chael Sonnen. Sure, the Brazil jokes and general xenophobia are funny in their own right, but when Chael actually removes the pro wrestling facade for a little and speaks his heart on an issue, it’s hard to disagree with the guy. Especially considering the fact that he knows first hand the pitfalls of
Like Crowder said, if you’re a fan of freedom, forward this video along and contact your local representative. And if that doesn’t work, we take Tulsa. And after that, we’re taking Topeka. Why? FUCK IT, THAT’S WHY.