(Could this tragedy have been avoided?)
“I fought in Canada two weeks ago versus a Canadian. So that big 22,000-people crowd was booing my name. How would you feel about that? It was awful. If I fought the same guy in Madison Square Garden things could’ve been different.” — Matt Serra, addressing New York state legislators yesterday.
Racked with guilt over Serra’s loss in Canada and moved by his eloquent oratory, the New York State Legislature declared that the ban on MMA competition would be lifted immediately; furthermore, MMA would henceforth be recognized as New York’s official sport, and May 6th would be known as “Matt Serra Day.”
No, not really. But the UFC is making a heavy push to get New York to fall in line with the other 32 states that now sanction MMA competition in the U.S., sending Serra, Matt Hamill, and Zuffa’s Executive Vice President/general counsel Lawrence Epstein to plead their case in Albany. “We need to educate people about the sport and I think when people have certain perceptions, when confronted with evidence, those perceptions change,” said Epstein, who cited MMA’s increased safety measures since the sport was banned in New York eleven years ago by Governor George Pataki. The UFC lobbyists were also eager to point out the economic incentives enjoyed by UFC host cities, claiming that UFC 82 generated over $11 million in revenue for Columbus, Ohio.
So was their trip a success? Epstein had this to say:
“We’re battling everyday and I think we’ve come a long way, and you know there are always going to be those who don’t investigate this or look at it as deeply as we’d like them to. I guess we will continue to have that, but I think we’re over the hump.”