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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…

Under the 1997 law [banning professional MMA in New York] and by the Attorney General’s own admission, sanctioning by a third-party organization is a viable way around the ban. In addition, as long as the law remains on the books, the New York State Athletic Commission has no regulatory authority over MMA and would therefore have no oversight over such events.

“We’ll take it,” said UFC in-house counsel Timothy Bellamy, who was present at today’s proceedings. “We’d rather have the state lift the ban and we go that route first, but we’ll know in the next two months if that’s going to happen.” If it doesn’t, said Bellamy, then the UFC would use the third-party-sanctioning option.

After years of failure trying to go through the normal channels in lifting New York State’s misguided and policitally-motivated MMA ban, it’s great to see the UFC find another way around the roadblocks. So will the promotion’s hope for a 20th-anniversary show at Madison Square Garden become a reality this fall? Stay tuned…

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morensbaby- February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am
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exect4501- February 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm
The only thing that would make that poster better is if it had some sort of reference to the Culinary Union of NY
co-promoting the event.
whiterice- February 14, 2013 at 9:57 am
MSG tickets may be crazy expensive, but I'm looking forward to having smaller shows that are frequent and accessible around the city. Yes, amateur mma is technically legal, and yes they do it on Native American land. But I want to be able to see fights in the city without having it be a big deal. Fans should be able to take in live mma more than once a year.
TheCrooner- February 14, 2013 at 7:35 am
I live in CT and I could easily go to such an event but I probably won't due to me not having several hundred dollars to spend on a ticket for such an event. However, every MMA fan should be absolutely stoked on this because when the UFC finally gets in at MSG they are going to put on an amazing card full of awesome fights and if that super fight happens it will be incredible. So don't be upset you live in Penn. Be stoked you're a fan with Pay-per-view.
FightZen- February 14, 2013 at 7:12 am
As a non-New Yorker, I couldn't care less. But only because as a Pennsylvanian, We've only had 2 events. #bitterzen
whiterice- February 14, 2013 at 6:36 am
You get hurt so many times...it's hard to let yourself believe. And yet, reading this, I can't help but feel hope again.
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