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Your Move, New York: Major MMA Legislation Passes in Canada and Connecticut

(Image #5 on a Google search of “Canada MMA.” Therefore, relevant.) 

Good news, Potato Nation! Thanks to some legal mumbo jumbo (although I’m told it was more “mumbo” than “jumbo”), our beloved sport has taken another giant step forward in the fight to become legalized in all 50 states. And Canada.

Yesterday, a bill to legalize mixed martial arts was passed in the Connecticut State Senate by a margin of 26-9, after passing in the State Assembly by a vote of 117-26 on May 7th. Although the bill still has to be signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy, the UFC’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner (a.k.a the man who was also behind the recent marijuana threshold increase for international UFC events), told MMAFighting that he is more than optimistic for the bill’s chances:

Today is a real big day for the sport. I want people to understand there are 47 states that have athletic commissions that have approved the sport, and two states without commissions that allow the sport. 

We feel very confident [the bill] will be with the overwhelming support.

Additionally, a bill that aimed to clarify the legality of MMA in Canada also passed 267-9 in Canada’s House of Commons yesterday. You might be saying, “Wait…MMA illegal in Canada? Then how UFC?” While you should probably learn how to use transitional words before moving forward in life, we’ll allow Dave Meltzer to explain Canada’s previously hazy laws regarding MMA:

A bill that formally changed the criminal code in Canada to remove the grey area regarding whether mixed martial arts is legal passed 267-9 in Canada’s House of Commons, The bill amends an 1880′s law that stated that prize fighting was illegal in Canada. That law was amended in 1934 to legalize boxing. The law had been interpreted in various ways throughout the country. Many provinces that had allowed MMA events, interpreted it by saying that in 1934, there was no such thing as MMA, that they could interpret the amendment of allowing fighting within the realm of a professionally regulated sport, to cover it. But in other provinces, most notably Saskatchewan and British Columbia, there was more uncertainty about what was and wasn’t legal.

Although two major obstacles have been cleared with the passing of these bills, what does this mean for the never-ending battle to legalize MMA in New York? Simply put: Not Much.


Despite His Hatred of MMA, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard Will Sign Bill to Create State Athletic Commission

(Time to put some new heroes on that boring old rock. Illustration via Sherdog/Erik Ebeling)

On July 1st of this year, South Dakota will officially become the 46th U.S. state to regulate mixed martial arts. The news was broken on Friday by reporter David Montgomery at the Argus Leader, who confirmed that S.D. Governor Dennis Daugaard will sign the bill creating an athletic commission in the state, despite his personal distaste for cage-fighting.

One thing I’ve learned about this cagefighting, it’s going on now, and it’s going on in an unregulated fashion,” Daugaard told Montgomery. “I know some of the proponents of this bill made the argument that regulating it would create more safety than exists today, and I have to agree that’s true…Would I like this kind of thing to not occur at all in South Dakota? I would, yes. It doesn’t deserve the word sport in my mind.”

If you’ll recall, the proposal to regulate MMA in South Dakota was the subject of controversy last month, as Daugaard blasted “the bloody violence that those kinds of spectacles create,” while State Representative Steve Hickey torpedoed any chance for a civilized debate when he compared the sport to child porn, then got into an ill-advised blog war with Seth Falvo. Nevertheless, the athletic commission bill was passed overwhelmingly by votes in the South Dakota Senate and House of Representatives, and will now be signed into law by Daugaard. Score one for the good guys.

With the addition of South Dakota to the MMA map, only New York, Connecticut, Montana, and Alaska remain as the holdout states that don’t formally regulate professional MMA competition. Alaska lacks an athletic commission, though MMA events are still regularly held there. (Remember Gerald Fike getting slinky-KO’d? That happened in Fairbanks.) And of course, Montana remains a hotbed of flying-motorcycle vale tudo.


Oklahoma Bans MMA: The Time to Riot is Now

(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.

Join us after the jump for more on this story as well as a great piece of Pro-NY MMA propaganda. 


UFC Gets Backing from NY State Senators in Legalization Push Ahead of 2012 Assembly Session Start in Jan.

(Video courtesy of WNY)

New York State Assembly isn’t scheduled to resume until January, but that isn’t stopping politicians in the Empire State from rallying in the meantime for legalizing mixed martial arts when the next session starts.

Several senators and Assembly members have spoken out publicly in support of the sport in recent weeks, which could bring the issue to the forefront when Assembly is back in session in two months.

Buffalo Senator Mark Grisanti, who met with UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta yesterday, says that it’s ridiculous that New York is dragging its feet when it comes to sanctioning the sport that is regulated in all but a handful of states in the U.S. and less than a half dozen Canadian provinces. Grisanti pointed to the economic benefits of having MMA in the state, noting that it could create jobs and inject an influx of cash into the New York economy as one of the big reasons for giving the popular combat sport the nod.

“Being that we’re so close to Toronto and southern Ontario, I would suspect that we would get a lot of that draw from our neighboring country [as well],” Grisanti explained.


Damn It! It Looks Like MMA Legalization in NY Isn’t Going to Happen *Again* This Year

(New York State Assembly: where dreams are squashed.)

The man in charge of the Assembly floor in New York, Democrat Speaker Sheldon Silver yesterday put the big kabosh on the hopes of MMA supporters who were optimistic that the sport will be made legal in the Empire State this year.

Silver intimated to the New York Daily News that the bill may not even be brought to the Assembly floor for a vote before the current legislative session ends on June 20 because the support isn’t there, which is curious considering votes in the other levels of government have all swung considerably in favor of approving legalization.


New York Senate Votes 42-18 in Favor of Sanctioning Mixed Martial Arts; State Assembly Vote is Now Last Hurdle to Legalization

(“Reach into my back pocket there and take out that envelope marked, ‘Housewarming gift for Senator Robach.’”)

State senators voted 42-18 today in favor of passing a bill that could lead to mixed martial arts being  sanctioned in New York. The bill will now go to the New York State Assembly where a final vote on the matter will be cast by members of the group that includes opposition stalwart Bob Reilly.


New York Tells UFC to Go F*ck Themselves, Basically

 Andrew Cuomo New York MMA
("This one. Right up your ass.")

Despite a high-profile appearance at Madison Square Garden last month in which the UFC announced its intentions to bring MMA to New York State — as well as a reported $75,000 in palm-grease to Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign — MMA Payout broke the news last night that Governor Cuomo neglected to include a provision in the state’s 2011-2012 budget that would sanction MMA in New York. In fact, Cuomo’s Executive Budget actually proposes eliminating the chairperson of the state athletic commission altogether. So not only is the Governor not backing MMA as Zuffa had hoped, he doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of combat sports in general. 

At this point, the MMA ban in New York can still be lifted through the more traditional route of a legislative bill — of which there are currently two in the assembly and one in the senate, all awaiting review — but we saw how well that worked last time. Making MMA part of the state budget was supposed to be the easy way in, and it just ain’t happening. If I were Dana White, I’d be furious right now. Money has been donated. Big press conferences have been held. And now, the current timetable of MMA regulation in New York is: Who freakin’ knows?


Now That It’s Legal, What’s the Next Step in MMA Sanctioning in Ontario?

(When will Ontario see its first event?)

When the Ontario government announced a little over a week ago that it had decided to sanction mixed martial arts in the Canadian province, the news came as a very welcome surprise to pretty much all of the issue’s stakeholders.

It wasn’t the fact that the province’s Liberal majority government finally decided that MMA was on par safety-wise and skill-wise with other sports that are legally contested in Ontario, making it a no-brainer to legalize that threw so many people off; it was the fact that the announcement came without much warning or fanfare.

The then-Minister of Consumer Services (she was shuffled to a different cabinet position four days after the announcement) Sophia Aggelonitis tweeted the news early on the morning of Saturday, August 14. Within an hour of sending out her brief message, that simply stated “Ontario will move to allow mixed martial arts,” Aggelonitis’ office posted a press release regarding the decision pointing to “competitor safety and boosting local economies” as its main reasons behind its landmark decision.


MMA Loses Another Battle in New York; State Assembly Pulls Sport From Budget Bill

UFC 111 poster New York City
(So the UFC is too brutal for New York, but children are allowed to see "Mamma Mia"? Explain that one to me. / Photo courtesy of breaks the unfortunate turn of events:

ALBANY – The push to legalize ultimate fighting in New York is on the ropes. Assembly Democrats stripped approval for the wildly popular violent sport from a budget bill that lawmakers will take up as soon as today.

Gov. Paterson sought to legalize mixed martial arts, saying fights could pull in more than $2 million in tax revenue for the cash-strapped state.

"The majority of voices who spoke about this issue in our conference were not supportive of approving it as part of the budget," said Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-L.I.), a fight fan. Englebright said it’s a long shot the Assembly will revisit the issue. The state Senate has already approved the sport.


New York MMA Bill S 2165-B Passed Another Hurdle Today

("All those for MMA in New York State, say ‘Aye’. All those against, say ‘duh’.")

New York’s MMA bill S 2165 made it over another major hurdle today by passing a third senate reading and vote and being referred to ways and means.

If this sounds familiar, its because the parallel bill, A 2009-C was recently passed by the Committee of Parks, Tourism and Sports Development onto the Codes Committee for a June 14 vote, where it was passed on to ways and means as well.