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Tag: regulation

West Virginia to Regulate MMA

(Watch your back, Bob Reilly. Your evil empire is crumbling before your eyes.)

It looks like just three of the last four hold-out states reluctant to sanction mixed martial arts are left standing with their arms interlocked in protest against the sport. West Virginia has now given in and agreed that MMA is a legitimate sport if regulated properly by a competent commission under the Unified Rules.

With West Virginia now on board, the only three states dragging their collective heels are Connecticut, Vermont and New York, but progress is being made in at least one of those centers. The New York Senate Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation  passed New York Senate Bill S01707A on March 15 and its expected that the bill will go directly to full Senate as vote, which could mean that the sport could be greenlit in the Empire State before the end of the year.

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Assemblyman Rob Walker Launches Facebook Group for MMA Support in New York


(Do it for the Hammer, the Terror, and Bones.)

With the vote to lift the ban on MMA in New York State imminent (or so we hear), our NY state assemblyman friend Rob Walker has taken to Facebook to drum up some more support. In the mission statement for his newly-launched group "Support Mixed Martial Arts in New York State," Walker writes the following:

I have been in talks with representatives from the UFC and we are trying to pass a bill that will allow for the sanction of the UFC. By joining this group we hope that it will help show people how much people want to see the sport be once again allowed in New York. The problem we are having is the miss conception of what the sport is. It has been called, "Human Cock Fighting" it has been criticized by everyone but what people do not realize is how far the sport has come.
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Exclusive: Interview with N.Y. State Assemblyman Bob Reilly, Part One

My column this week on SportsIllustrated.com deals with the legislative fight over MMA in New York State.  At the center of this battle, as you probably know, is Assemblyman Bob Reilly, who is a committed opponent of the sport.  Mr. Reilly and I are obviously on different sides of the issue, but he was gracious enough to take the time and explain his position, and for that I thank him.  Part one of our talk is below.  Check back for part two later today, and head on over to SI for UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner’s response to Reilly’s arguments against the sport.

You’ve said before that this isn’t your big issue, that you’re really into agriculture.  And yet this is the issue that’s gotten you the most attention.  Do you still feel like you’re reluctant opponent of MMA, because you seem to have embraced it rather eagerly of late.

That’s a tough question to answer.  What happens is, in the state legislature, with the hundreds of laws we vote on and a budget of maybe $120 billion with a $14 billion deficit and a worldwide financial crisis, there are many, many things we look at.  And when I said agriculture is one thing I’m interested in, that’s one thing.  I’m on the sub-committee on agriculture, but I’m also on the Racing and Wagering Committee, I’m on the Corporations Committee, so there are many other things I do besides this. 

But do I think this is an important thing?  Yes.  I think it’s going to be harmful to people.  I think it’s going to be harmful to our society and harmful to our economy.  So it’s one of things I address.  The legalization of MMA in New York State, I would say the only person pushing that or interested in it is Steve Englebright, the sponsor.  There aren’t a lot of other legislators pushing for it.  As I explored it further and became more educated on it, I changed my opinion and become more opposed to it.  

You say it’s going to be harmful to people.  How, specifically, will allowing live events of this sport in your state harm people?

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Exclusive Interview: NY Assemblyman Rob Walker — Our Man in Long Island

Rob Walker New York State Assembly Committee MMA
(Photo courtesy of Newsday.)

Great news, fight fans — we now officially know more New York State Assemblymen who support the regulation of MMA in New York than those who are against it.

A lifelong resident of Long Island, Rob Walker has been a member of the New York State Assembly since 2005 and currently sits on the Assembly Committee for Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development. And like our friend Jonathan Bing, Walker is a co-sponsor of the bill to lift the MMA ban in New York. We called Assemblyman Walker at his office yesterday to discuss the public support for MMA in Long Island and why it’s finally time for New York State to say "yes" to safe, sanctioned competition.

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CAGEPOTATO.COM: How did you become involved with the Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committee?
ROB WALKER: Prior to my election, I was the deputy commissioner of parks in the town of Oyster Bay, so it was just logical that when they handed out committee assignments, I’d wind up on the committee that oversees parks, recreation and tourism. I took my role in local government and brought it to the State Legislature.

What initially drew you to the MMA regulation issue?
First and foremost, I actually have some constituents and friends that have been fighting in New Jersey and everywhere else, and they brought it to my attention that we can’t even hold events because it’s not sanctioned in New York State. So that was the first knowledge I had of the sport, and then with the bill that was coming out last year we got more intimately involved and gained some more knowledge of what it’s about. We’re just trying to learn all we can before we take some action.

Why is it a good time to finally lift the ban on MMA in New York?
I think there are a couple reasons. First, the economic advantages are quite apparent. And it’s also what we’re competing against — New York is competing against many states that border it, and we’re losing out. Our residents are going across state lines to compete, and why should New York be one of five or six states that don’t allow participation in MMA? What’s ironic about this bill is that it’s not even demanding that the athletic commission remove the ban; we’re simply giving the athletic commission the ability to go in and see if they want to provide sanctions.

What do you think of Assemblyman Bob Reilly’s arguments that MMA would breed more violence in society, and that it would be economically harmful to New York?

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Exclusive Interview: NY Assemblyman Jonathan Bing Fights for the Cause

Jonathan Bing MMA New York Assemblyman

In our efforts to spread awareness about the current fight to legalize mixed martial arts in New York State, we’ve wasted a lot of energy shaking our fists at the opposition. So let’s all take a deep breath and keep in mind one thing — Assemblyman Bob Reilly is just one man, with one vote. Luckily, there are reasonable men and women on the Assembly Committee for Tourism, Arts and Sports Development, who have a different idea about what’s best for New York and its athletes.

One of those men is Jonathan Bing. Representing New York’s 73rd Assembly District since 2002, Bing is a co-sponsor of the bill to regulate our sport in the Empire State. Though his work in the State Assembly has included everything from organizing free flu shots for seniors and dental exams for children, to helping 9/11 rescue and clean-up workers attain workman’s compensation benefits, he is now at the forefront of the movement to lift NY’s outdated 12-year-old ban on MMA. We recently caught up with Assemblyman Bing to discuss how MMA would help New York, the arguments of its critics, and when MMA could finally come to Madison Square Garden.

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CAGEPOTATO.COM: What initially drew you to the MMA legalization issue?
JONATHAN BING: As a member of the Assembly Tourism Committee, this issue has been before the committee for about a year now, and due to my membership on that committee and my interest in tourism and cultural issues, I became involved.

Had you been a fan of the sport before, or at least aware of it?
I’ve been aware of it. I’m not particularly a fan of the sport, but I’m a fan of increasing revenue to the state of New York, and I’m a fan of high-quality athletics. It’s not really something that I personally would order a pay-per-view for, but I appreciate what it would mean to the state in terms of revenue, and I appreciate the quality of the athletes participating in it.

Why is it a good time to finally lift the ban on MMA in New York?
Well, it’s something that pretty much every state with an athletic commission has approved, so we know it’s been working in other states, and we know how successful it’s been in terms of raising revenue. We’re in a desperate fiscal time right now where we’re looking for any way possible to raise revenue in New York State, and this would provide perhaps millions of dollars if we were to allow these competitions.

Assemblyman Bob Reilly has been very vocal about his opposition to your bill. Have you had any personal discussions with him about it?

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Vote to Legalize MMA in New York Postponed

Mandy Moore UFC
(Think of it this way, New York legislators: Every time you stall on the vote, you’re robbing Mandy Moore of her joy.)
 
MMA Mania passes along a bit of bad news regarding the fight to lift the ban on MMA in New York State:

MMA is currently unregulated in New York, and appeared to be on the verge of being sanctioned in 2008, but some eleventh-hour concerns from uneducated members of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development scuttled its passage.
 
Another session on the matter began in the state capital on January 7 and was expected to reconvene on February 11.
 
No longer.
 
“Budget issues” are expected to monopolize the entire schedule for the immediate future, effectively pushing non-critical items (like MMA sanctioning) to the legislative back burner…[W]ith an obstacle as broad and sweeping as “Budget issues,” who can even say when that vote will be.

If there’s a bright side to this unfortunate setback, it’s that it gives the MMA community more time to spread awareness of this issue to the uninformed. Please do your part by signing our "Lift the Ban on MMA in New York" petition (if you haven’t already), and sending the link to every MMA fan and New Yorker that you know. I’m sure we can get this thing to over 10,000 signatures before it’s time to present it to New York’s Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development. Thanks so much, everybody…

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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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