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Tag: New York

UFC’s Battle to Legalize MMA in NY Begins (Again) Tomorrow


(MSG: You don’t know excitement until you hear 20,000 Long Island accents howling in unison. Photo courtesy of OneLouderNYC.com.)

Though a previous UFC-led effort to legalize mixed martial arts in New York State fell apart last year, the cause is not lost. A legislative session will re-address the issue tomorrow in Albany, which could lead to MMA being placed under the regulation of the New York State Athletic Commission, and open the doors for a historic fall UFC show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. And why might the current push for NY legalization be more successful than the last one? For one thing, New York State now has an Athletic Commission chairperson who’s sympathetic to the sport. Also, the state’s economy is in the crapper and they need every dollar they can get. As ESPN writes:

[Governor David] Paterson is cutting programs and paychecks to address a $15 billion deficit in the state budget, and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered $1.4 billion in budget cuts last month. Ignoring the income MMA and the UFC could bring to the state and city would seem fiscally irresponsible.
 
"At a time when the New York economy is in crisis, it would be a mistake for the state to miss out on the considerable revenue that our events would generate," said Marc Ratner, a UFC vice president for Government and Regulatory Affairs. "We are eager to bring both the excitement of our new sport as well as its major tax and tourist revenue to New York State."

An independent economic impact study commissioned by the UFC showed that a UFC event would generate $11.5 million for New York City in tax and tourist revenue — which could be just the right amount of grease for the wheels to start turning. The bill (#S02858, FYI) will need to pass through New York’s House and Senate, then get a signature from Gov. Patterson. If all goes well, the UFC will hit Madison Square Garden in the fall, then Buffalo, then Albany.

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UFC Announces “Fight for the Troops” and Appeals to New York’s Pocketbook


(Guess who’s fixing to fight for some troops. Also, for money.)

It’s a busy day for the UFC’s PR staff, as they sent out one release officially announcing the December 10 “UFC Fight for the Troops” event in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and another to alert the state of New York to just how much money they’re losing by not legalizing MMA.

The “Fight for the Troops” card will air live on Spike TV and is headlined by Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida, and also includes Mike Swick-Jonathan Goulet and Frankie Edgar-Matt Wiman. From the press release:

The special live UFC fight card will raise funds to build a hospital for traumatic brain injuries for the brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces. Thousands of soldiers from nearby Fort Bragg, the proud home of the U.S. Airborne and Special Operations Forces, will be in attendance. More information about the facility, including ways to donate, can be found online at http://www.fallenheroesfund.org or by calling 1-800-340-HERO

The fight card also showcases five current UFC fighters who are all U.S. military veterans, including Luigi Fioravanti, Tim Credeur, Dale Hartt, Brandon Wolff, and Steve Bruno. An additional fight will be added to the main event and announced at a later date.

The day’s other UFC release serves as a not-so-subtle reminder to New York that they’re missing out on millions of dollars by keeping MMA away from their state. And it’s not just New York City that the UFC has their eye on.

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NY Fox Affiliate Hates MMA So Much It Can Barely Stand to Sensationalize It


(Props: MMA Payout)

Prepare yourselves, Potato Nation. What you are about to see in the above video from MyFox New York is not like anything you’ve ever seen. Unless you’ve seen MMA before. In that case, yeah, it’s pretty much the same thing you’ve seen before. Still, it shocks the hell out of this Fox affiliate. They found it so deplorably violent they went ahead and added bullwhip sound effects to it. That should solve it. Oh, and did they mention that one guy works for the MTA? His eye is swollen. Now you know why the G train is never running.

Funny thing is, I’ve actually attended this underground fight series before. It was at a gym in Queens (represent!), and aside from being amateurish (which is what you expect from amateur fighters), it was a pretty normal night of MMA fights.

Now, we could go back and forth about whether this kind of unlicensed, unsanctioned event is keeping MMA illegal in New York, or whether keeping it unlicensed and unsanctioned is only making inevitable events like these needlessly dangerous, but I’d rather not have that discussion. Instead I’d rather discuss news outlets that want an excuse to show violence, while still managing to look down their collective noses at a sensationalized, edited, voiced-over version of the sport of MMA.

What’s next, Fox? Reporting about how bad porn is while showing porn?

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New Athletic Commission Chairwoman Could Be Key to MMA in New York

After the UFC’s lobbying efforts failed to get MMA legalized in New York, Zuffa’s Marc Ratner vowed not to give up so easily. Not long afterwards, Melvina Lathan was named as the new chairwoman for the New York State Athletic Commission, and guess what? She seems friendly to the UFC’s cause, despite being a "boxing purist" according to a recent Newsday article:

"I would hope that New York would keep an open mind," Lathan said. "There’s room for two sports. I’m a boxing purist and I will always be, but I truly believe MMA is a sport all of its own. I think the more people are educated about it, the more they understand it and accept it."

The article goes on to tell the story of Lathan growing up in Philadelphia, where she would peek into a local boxing gym on her way home from school. One day a man opened the door and invited her inside to watch. Turns out the man was Sonny Liston, or so the story goes. Ratner describes Lathan as "a wonderful asset to the sport" and implies that she’ll be the boost they need to get MMA legalized when the Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee revisits it in January. But not everyone is pleased with Lathan’s appointment:

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Marc Ratner Keeping The MMA Dream Alive in NY


(MMA in MSG by ’09? Let’s hope so.)

UFC VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner isn’t giving up hope on getting MMA legalized in New York. Though all the lobbying didn’t produce the immediate result the UFC was hoping for, it sounds as if Ratner is making this a personal obsession of his. In an article on TriStateFighter.com (via MMA Payout) he describes himself as “bullish on the future of MMA in New York” and blames ignorance of the sport for the failure of a legalization and regulation bill to get out of committee:

“The Tourism Committee – our bill did not come out of there. One of the legislators needs to be properly educated, because he said something about no referees. Some people think it is still no holds barred or no rules.”

[...]

“We have been talking to the Times Union Arena in Albany to locations in Utica, Buffalo, and Syracuse. Madison Square Garden – I have talked to them once a week for the last year and half. Is it going happen? Yes, but not this year. We are going to keep lobbying and educating and it is not the same sport it was 15 years ago … that is what they have to understand.”

Ratner, of course, was the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission for fourteen years before leaving to work for the UFC, so he knows a thing or two about state regulation. He also says the UFC has “ambitious” plans for global domination, er, expansion, including Dubai, Australia, and Macao.

Before you bother looking it up, Macao is a “special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.” Big MMA fans there, apparently. Who knew?

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MMA In New York Remains But A Distant Dream

It looks like the UFC’s lobbying efforts in New York may have all been for nothing. The New York State Assembly’s Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee shelved the MMA bill today and a vote is not expected to take place tomorrow, as was previously expected. This doesn’t mean it’s dead for good, but it does mean that we won’t be seeing a UFC event in Madison Square Garden any time soon.

According to Sherdog, the committee plans to hold a public forum to review the bill some time between now and January 2009:

“This would give the opportunity to have a round table or a public hearing, an opportunity for all sides to weigh in and take a hard look at the issue,” said Elizabeth Nostrand, legislative and policy director for Assemblyman Steven Englebright, who authored the bill and chairs the Tourism committee. “Of course, there’s a lot of interest in the bill, but there’s a lot of confusion too as demonstrated by last week’s vote.”

If I were Dana White, I might ask those lobbyists for my money back. And when they told me that my request was not only implausible, but also extremely tasteless, I’d call them a bunch of fucking pussies. Then I’d probably feel bad the next day so I’d send them a text message to apologize. This is why I’m not Dana White.

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Big-Ass UFC Announcement Pushed Back Again

delayed!

Well, it’s Tuesday, which means you’ve probably been biting your nails all day wondering when Dana White is going to drop his huge, mind-blowing announcement that may or may not define the future of the sport. Dave Meltzer, who broke some news earlier about EliteXC’s next CBS show — which has the working title of “Unfinished Business,” by the way — now has this to say via f4wonline.com:

Dana White has moved the meeting for UFC employees to Noon tomorrow (Wednesday) for the big announcement. So word should break shortly after that time.

MMA Mania points out that the New York Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committee is slated to vote again tomorrow on legislation to legalize MMA in NY. That could just be a coincidence — White previously denied that his announcement was related to New York MMA regulation — but we’ll update you when we know more.

And hey, just so this post isn’t a total waste of your time, here’s a rather-awesome UFC 86 hype video, running down the matchups between Forrest Griffin and Quinton Jackson, as well as Cote vs. Almeida. By the way, if you tell Rampage he’s not going to win this fight, you can kiss his natural black ass.


UFC 86: Jackson vs. Griffin Preview

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UFC Learning That The New York Media Spotlight Can Be Uncomfortable


(The Fertitta brothers doing their best to look upstanding.)

With their efforts to get MMA legalized in New York, the UFC has drawn a lot of attention in the Big Apple recently, and not all of it is positive. New York Magazine published its own piece on the legislative push and the UFC itself recently, and they aren’t afraid of a little implied character assassination in their articles:

Frank Fertitta III and his brother Lorenzo made the cover of Forbes last month for what the magazine dubbed their “Ultimate Cash Machine.” The Fertittas come from a long line of casino entrepreneurs. Their grandfather, Anthony, ran gambling halls in Galveston, Texas, where he was convicted for beating up a Life reporter who came to town to investigate the scene. Frank Jr., the brothers’ father, was running Las Vegas’s Fremont Hotel when the Feds busted up the place to break a money-skimming operation (he wasn’t charged); the ordeal is said to have become the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Casino. He later opened a local-friendly casino miles away from the Strip, and he passed that business to his sons.

Now that’s how you suggest that someone is an immoral crook without ever explicitly saying it. You just mention that they come from a long line of crooks, and then let the reader come to their own conclusions after that. I hope you’re taking notes, journalism students.

The article also adds some insight as to the obstacles the UFC faces in the New York legislature, and it doesn’t seem as if the Elite XC event on CBS helped them any.

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Possible Epic Fail: Dana’s Big Announcement

dana-white-party.jpg
(Don’t uncork the champagne bottles just yet…)

Sam Caplan at FiveOuncesofPain says an anonymous source let the cat out of the bag regarding the big-time UFC announcement that we’ve been frothing about for the last couple of days. Here’s the story, as he hears it:

[T]he committee for Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development of New York recently held a vote on Wednesday to decide whether the state should regulate Mixed Martial Arts…According to the source, the bill was voted down in overwhelming fashion…

This web site has also learned that the possible legalization of Mixed Martial Arts in the state of New York was the planned announcement that UFC president Dana White had hinted at during an interview that was published on ESPN.com last week.

According to a source, White was confident that the vote was going to pass and believed he had assurances that the proposed bill would be approved by the committee for Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development of New York. However, the proposal was unexpectedly voted down for reasons that are not yet clear. In a strange turn of events, it is believed that the chair of the committee, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, who introduced the proposal, ended up voting against it…

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Possibly the Best Argument Yet for MMA Regulation in New York

Matt Serra Georges St. Pierre UFC 83
(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.”

(Props: FightOpinion)

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