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Tag: New York MMA regulation

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.

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UFC Scores Major Victory in Legal Battle With New York State; Promotion Could Begin Holding Events Under Third-Party Sanctioning


(Is this real life? / Dream-fight poster via NixsonDesign)

A hearing yesterday afternoon related to the UFC’s ongoing lawsuit against the State of New York — which challenges the validity of the state’s 1997 MMA ban on constitutional grounds — ended in the UFC’s greatest victory thus far in its fight to hold events in the Empire State. Jim Genia was on the scene at the U.S District Court of the Southern District of New York, and broke the news for Fightline.com:

In what was supposed to be a day of oral arguments pertaining to the State Attorney General’s most recent motion to dismiss, attorney John M. Schwartz — representing the Attorney General’s office — acknowledged unequivocally that the law prohibiting pro MMA did not apply to amateur versions of the sport, and that as per the statute, a pre-approved third-party sanctioning body could oversee MMA events in the state. The admission of the latter prompted the counsel representing Zuffa’s interests to say that if that were truly the case, then there’d be no further need to pursue the lawsuit – which in turn prompted the presiding Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S District Court of the Southern District of New York to push both sides to immediately settle…

Notwithstanding whether a settlement is reached, the door is now open for Zuffa — or any other MMA promotion — to circumvent the ban by utilizing one of the pre-approved sanctioning bodies enumerated in the statute. Those sanctioning bodies include the World Karate Association (since renamed the World Kickboxing Association, a.k.a. the “WKA”), the Professional Karate Association and the U.S. Judo Association, among others…

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What the Heck Is Going on in New York? MMA’s Legal Gray-Area in the Empire State



(A nice little Sunday at the Underground Combat League. / All photos courtesy of the author.)

 By Jim Genia

The UFC held a show in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1995, and all was well and good. That is, until New York banned professional mixed martial arts in 1997 on the grounds that it was “human cockfighting” and fights to the death suck. Or something like that. But the passage of time has seen the sport evolve, and now MMA is sanctioned almost everywhere in the country — everywhere but New York.

So last year Zuffa filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that the ban violated all sorts of Constitutional rights, and while the suit is currently mired in the muck of the judicial process, and efforts to change the law via the legislature get bogged down year after maddening year, something has changed. Depending on where you live in the state, it’s now possible to take in an MMA event live. There are shows sprouting up on the sovereign territory of Indian Reservations, and amateur MMA competitions are kicking off in ice skating rinks and in armories — all of them happening pretty much unmolested by an athletic commission that went from “search and destroy” mode to laissez-faire in seemingly the blink of an eye. Which begs the question: What the heck is going on in New York?

The short answer is that there’s a lot going in New York. The long answer, however, involves an athletic commission finally admitting that amateur MMA is legal, fights on Indian Land, and an underground fight scene that shows no signs of slowing down.

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New York Drops the Ball Once Again, Will Not Regulate MMA in 2012


(Sheldon Silver: Son of a bitch.)

You know, there was a time when we believed that an online petition could change the world. Ah, the naivete of youth. But despite years of UFC lobbying efforts and fan support, MMA is still at square one when it comes to regulation in New York State. In what has become an annual letdown, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — who has never been an ally of the sport — determined during a closed-door meeting yesterday that a bill seeking to legalize MMA in New York didn’t have enough support to pass. According to a New York Daily News report, the circumstances seemed profoundly shady:

The decision not to bring the bill to the floor helped highlight a growing split between younger members of the Assembly and older lawmakers, insiders said. “[Silver] is still siding with a dwindling number of aging veterans,” one source in the room griped.

The source said after eight people had spoken in favor of legalizing MMA and eight against, Silver called on members who don’t support the bill to raise their hands. About 25 members did. Then he asked for a show of hands of those who support it before saying that it looked even, the source said. 

An upstate member who supports the measure complained it didn’t look even to her, the source said…The speaker took another informal vote, with 25 again raising their hands against. The “ayes” seemingly had more than 60, the source said.

Silver then said others had expressed opposition privately and that the votes weren’t there to move the bill.

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Wyoming to Create First Ever MMA-Only Commission Starting July 1st


(Pictured: Wyoming’s remaining residents react to the great news.) 

After becoming the 45th state (we’re looking at you, New York) to regulate mixed martial arts last Thursday, when current Governor Matt Mead signed House Bill 87 into law, Wyoming will become the first state to assemble a commission focused entirely on MMA. As we know, boxing and athletic commissions carry this responsibility in many of the states that have legalized MMA, and this is where Wyoming ran into trouble in the first place. In the past ten years, state lawmakers have attempted to reinstate the position of State Boxing Commissioner, who would then be placed in charge of MMA regulation, five separate times, but were met with overwhelming opposition from the state’s boxing industry.

The bill to legalize the sport was unanimously approved on Thursday by Wyoming State Senate and House of Representatives, and though MMA was never dubbed “illegal” in Wyoming, all fights held within the state until this point were not recognized on fighter’s records due to a lack of a sanctioning body to regulate the sport.

Now here’s where things get interesting: the committee will consist of three individuals appointed by Gov. Mead and will be funded by a five percent tax on gross receipts from all MMA events. This stipulation apparently has local promoters and fighters up in arms, fearing that the tax will discourage big name promotions like the UFC from visiting the state. Because, you know, Wyoming was next on Dana White’s agenda after he figured out this whole “international takeover” thing. Wyoming hosts an average of 20 mixed martial arts events a year, with the average crowd holding strong at around 500-700 attendees. Local fight promoter Stephen Alley told the Casper Star-Tribune that he believes this additional fee will crush the already depleted MMA scene, telling the publication in an interview that, “If they bring in a commission, most of the people that you see operating right now, they won’t be around.”

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Dana White on MMA in New York: “I Guarantee It’s Going to Happen This Year.”


(Oh, you DID NOT just deny my Facebook friend request, Reilly.)

In an interview given to MMAFightCorner, Dana White didn’t beat around the bush when discussing the possibility of finally legalizing mixed martial arts in New York. If you recall, the UFC recently filed a law suit against New York, claiming that the “Empire State” was in breach of their first amendment rights to peacefully assemble. Specifically, Zuffa lawyers have been attempting to prove that mixed martial arts is a form of entertainment, like any other sport, and therefore cannot be criminalized.

Well, it seems we may have finally reached the mountaintop, so to speak, as the UFC President seems more than confident that 2012 will be the year that New Yorkers near and far will finally be able to sit down and watch MMA from somewhere other than their couches:

We’re so close. It’s going to happen, and I guarantee you it’s going to happen this year. It’s going to depend on when it happens, timing and everything else, but obviously, it would be nice to go in there with, probably, Jon Jones.

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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 graciemag.com.)

NYDailyNews.com 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.

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Guy Who Originally Banned MMA in New York Now Cool With It

George Pataki New York Governor MMA
("Helen, I need you to track down this ‘Nate Diaz‘ fellow. I believe this young man may have some interesting ideas on how to address the state’s growing hater problem.")

On Monday, we gleefully high-fived each other at the news that New York Governor David Paterson was coming out publicly in favor of MMA regulation in the Empire State. But new support is coming from a surprising — and just as significant — source. Via the New York Daily News:

ALBANY – Former Gov. George Pataki, who once called ultimate fighting barbaric and had it banned in 2001 in New York, now supports its legalization.
 
"With more rigorous oversight, training and medical requirements – mixed martial arts has made considerable strides to ensure the safety of participants," said Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo.
 
"With these measures in mind, Gov. Pataki would be supportive of allowing the sport in New York in today," he told the Daily News.

Kickass. We now have two governors on our side, while the opposition’s most prominent voice in New York is still crackpot Assemblyman Bob Reilly, aided by a few ill-informed, progress-resisting editorial columnists who still refer to mixed martial arts as "ultimate fighting" (no offense to the guy who wrote the above article). Pataki’s change-of-heart will be an incredibly valuable talking point in the battle to come: If the dude who banned MMA can inform himself on the sport’s progress over the last ten years and change his opinion, those opposition voices should be able to do the same.

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Report: New York Governor to Endorse MMA Legalization in Budget Proposal This Month


(An open mind, and the ability to pull tall chicks. Gotta love this dude.)

From NYDailyNews.com:

ALBANY – Gov. Paterson is set to propose legalizing ultimate fighting and its controversial steel-cage matches to help wrestle the state’s fiscal woes.
 
Madison Square Garden and upstate venues have supported the idea in hopes of hosting its events. An Ultimate Fighting Championship league match scheduled for Newark in March sold out last week.
 
Paterson, who has said the state faces a deficit of up to $9 billion, is looking for ways to generate revenue without raising taxes or borrowing and will reveal his proposal in his 2009-10 budget plan Jan. 19, sources told the Daily News.
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MMA in NY Regulation Bill Delayed Until Late 2010 at the Earliest :’ (

New York governor David Paterson
(New York Governor David Paterson. You’d think a guy who lost his eye in unregulated vale tudo matches in the late ’80s would have more sympathy to our cause.)

I doubt many of you follow New York politics, but it’s a freakin’ mess out here right now. Virtually nothing constructive has gotten done in the NY senate over the last two weeks, and as an emergency session comes to a close today — ending the legislative body’s 2009 schedule — one bill that will be left out in the cold is our beloved S2165A, intended to regulate mixed martial arts in New York State. Originally, the bill was on the docket for a June 9th vote. Unfortunately, things fell apart on June 8th. MMA Weekly has the story:

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