Monday, April 27, 2015

Conference Yields No Decision for MMA in New York


The Democratic Conference of the New York State Assembly met tonight to discuss the legalization of pro MMA, and after 90 minutes of closed-door talks, no decision was made on whether or not the MMA bill should be allowed to go to the floor for a vote.

Democratic Conference to Discuss MMA in New York Tonight


The New York State Assembly's Democratic Conference will meet tonight, and it's expected that the closed-door session will involve quite a bit of discussion pertaining to the merits of legalizing mixed martial arts. In other words, tonight is the night when we'll learn if 2015 is the year the MMA bill gets passed.

Here are some facts about what's going on:

Friday, April 24, 2015

The UFC Was Scouting Out New York Venues This Week


UFC Executives Scout New York State Arenas as Hope
of New York Legalizing & Regulating MMA Increases

Strong Interest by UFC & Arenas to Bring Professional MMA to
Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, & New York City Area

Albany – Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC® Chairman & CEO, announced that two UFC executives spent the last three days meeting with arena managers as they toured venues from Buffalo to New York City. As the New York State Assembly will soon consider whether to pass legislation – approved by the State Senate for the last six years – making New York the 50th state to legalize professional mixed martial arts (MMA), Fertitta said the UFC wanted to be ready to move as quickly as possible to begin planning events across the Empire State.

“Let me reiterate what I’ve said publicly before, the UFC is committed to bringing some of the best and biggest events we’ve ever held to New York State if they legalize and regulate professional MMA. Over the next three years – assuming passage this year – UFC will hold a minimum of four events per year in New York, with at least two upstate events every year,” Fertitta said. “We are as excited to host events in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany as we are in finally bringing UFC to downstate arenas, such as the iconic Madison Square Garden and new Barclays Center.”

Earlier this week, Peter Dropick, UFC’s Senior Vice President, Event Development & Operations, and Michael Britt, UFC’s Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations, met with officials from and toured Buffalo’s First Niagara Center, Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, Oncenter War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, Utica Memorial Auditorium, Albany’s Times Union Center, Madison Square Garden, and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“UFC is certainly eager to bring our world class athletes and our exuberant fans – from New York, surrounding states and Canada – to venues across the state. And we know that venues and localities across the state will benefit economically from the shows and events put on by UFC and other MMA promoters,” Britt said. “A conservative estimate shows that legalizing and regulating professional MMA in New York will generate $135 million in economic activity – and bring thousands of out-of-state tourists to New York – annually.”

Jennifer Van Rysdam, VP Arena Events, First Niagara Center, said, “Having the UFC come to town and to our arena would be a chance for visitors to experience what Buffalo offers and local business owners will reap the benefits. Being a stone’s throw from Canada, we know that the passionate UFC fans from the north will be flocking across the border to see events in our arena and spend their dollars at hotels, restaurants and stores across Buffalo and Erie County.”

Jeff Calkins, General Manager of the Blue Cross Arena, said, “Having the chance to host events put on by one of the world’s premiere sports organization is an exciting thing for the Blue Cross Arena and a great promotion for Rochester and Monroe County. Our restaurants, hotels, family businesses, etc., would feel the economic impact from these events. This is where Jon Jones was born and he deserves an opportunity to perform here for his family, friends and fans.”

Michael Spaulding, Director of Arena & Theater Services for the Oncenter of Syracuse, said, "The Oncenter looks forward to the possibility of hosting a UFC event once professional MMA is approved in NYS. Just one MMA event per year would have a huge economic impact not only for our venue, but the surrounding hotels, restaurants and bars as well. Currently, amateur MMA is legal in New York, but it is not regulated. Legalizing MMA would regulate the sport both at the amateur and professional levels while ensuring the safety of the athletes."

Robert Esche, President of Mohawk Valley Garden Corporation (Utica Memorial Auditorium), said, "Tourism is a driving force of any local economy, and in recent months, Utica Memorial Auditorium has proven this to be true. We are not only excited to host high-end events like MMA in the future, but also to help grow their Northeastern fan base. We view MMA as an integral part of furthering economic development in the tourism industry of New York State.

Bob Belber, SMG Regional General Manager, Times Union Center, said, "The Times Union Center in Albany would be an excellent choice for a UFC Mixed martial arts event once the State Legislature votes to allow MMA professional fights to be presented. With more than 17,000 seats the economic impact to the Capital Region would greatly help area businesses and tax revenues for the state, county and city would add up quickly. We are thrilled for MMA fans in the Capital Region who soon may be able to come to Albany to see their favorite fighters."

Brett Yormark, Barclays Center CEO, said, “UFC aligns perfectly with our strategy of being in the big event business,” said. “We are excited to host UFC events at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, allowing us to reach a new fan base while driving economic activity for local businesses. It’s time. We know New Yorkers are eager for MMA.”

Joel Fisher, executive vice president, sports properties for the Madison Square Garden Company, said, “Every athlete aspires to compete at Madison Square Garden, and we eagerly anticipate providing the elite MMA fighters in the New York area and around the world the opportunity to live out that dream. Without this legislation, which also proposes important regulatory oversight, New York will continue to lose an economic opportunity to other states. We look forward to bringing the UFC phenomenon to MSG for the legions of passionate MMA fans, and for the benefit of the city and the state.”

“We continue to have strong and growing support from New Yorkers who want to bring the fastest growing sport in the world to their home state,” Fertitta said. “We are doing everything we possibly can to be ready to promote events across upstate and downstate New York. All it will take is for the New York State Assembly to join with every other state legislative body in the nation and say ‘yes’ to making the sport legal, regulated and safe.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UFC to Keep Fighting On With Lawsuit Against New York


From a press release circulated by the UFC:


Las Vegas ‒ UFC® has retained Paul Clement, former United States Solicitor General, to spearhead the organization’s appeals process after Judge Kimba Wood of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legality of New York’s ban on professional mixed martial arts (MMA) matches and exhibitions.

The judge’s dismissal of the UFC’s case against the State of New York in March was based on a technicality, and the decision confirms the state is misapplying the law. UFC was advised by the judge to “consider filing new vagueness claims.” Wood also stated the New York Attorney General’s “recent statements that the Ban prohibits sanctioned MMA” were made “despite [the law’s] plain language to the contrary.” UFC also believes that Judge Wood erred in failing to recognize the serious First Amendment problems with the New York law.

“We retained Paul Clement, one of the nation’s most highly respected appellate lawyers, to aggressively appeal the lower court’s technical dismissal of this matter,” UFC Chief Legal Officer Kirk Hendrick said. “Clement shares our view that New York’s law is unconstitutional and dangerous, and we will get the decision overturned.”

The State of New York passed legislation in 1997 banning professional MMA events, citing concerns for the lack of safety regulations. Since that time, the UFC has been on the forefront of athlete safety and implemented some of the most effective and strictest safety regulations in sports, resulting in 49 states and numerous countries legalizing MMA. Because New York’s law is vague, misapplied, and both overbroad and underinclusive, unsanctioned amateur MMA events—wholly unregulated and lacking necessary safety standards—have been allowed to take place.

“I am delighted to be representing the UFC in this important challenge to New York’s outdated and unconstitutional law,” Clement stated. “Even New York officials are confused about the scope of this hopelessly unclear law, and by targeting professional MMA matches and exhibitions, the law raises First Amendment problems of the first order,” he added.

Clement is a partner at Bancroft PLLC and represents a diverse range of clients in both federal and state appellate courts. He represented the National Basketball Association during labor negotiations in 2011 and the National Football League during a potential lockout season. Throughout his legal career, Clement has argued more than 75 cases in front of the United States Supreme Court and is regularly regarded as one of the most influential lawyers in the country. Confirmed by the United States Senate, Clement served as Solicitor General from June 2005 to Jun 2008. He also serves as a Distinguished Lecturer in Law at the Georgetown University Law Center and a Senior Fellow of the Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute.

The plaintiffs are also being represented in this action by Barry Friedman, the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and Jamie A. Levitt of Morrison & Foerster LLP in New York.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

UFC on FOX 15: Observations From the Press Room


  • The toll for even just winning an MMA fight can be a great one, and never was that more evident than with the victors last night who were escorted back to the press room for a media scrum. Aljamain Sterling held a bag of ice to his side and moved like an elderly person, the victim of a pulled muscle. Chris Dempsey looked like he'd been hit by a truck, and Gian Villante was an absolute mess. Even Diego Brandao was a little dinged up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UFC on FOX Open Workouts: Lyoto Machida


UFC on FOX Open Workouts: Jacare


UFC on FOX Open Workouts: Luke Rockhold


UFC on FOX Open Workouts: Chris Camozzi


Want a Free Month of UFC Fight Pass?


From a UFC press release:


New York UFC Fans Who Join the Fight to Bring Professional MMA to the Empire State will Receive One Free Month of UFC FIGHT PASS

Albany - Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC® Chairman & CEO, today announced the launching of a new page on the official UFC website to provide New Yorkers with a new way to show their support for legalizing and regulating professional mixed martial arts (MMA) in the last place in North America where professional MMA is illegal.

The new webpage can be found here:

New Yorkers are urged to join tens of thousands of fans from Buffalo to Montauk and sign up and for a grassroots campaign to urge the New York State Assembly to finally pass the bill to legalize and regulate MMA in New York, as the State Senate has now done on a bipartisan basis for six consecutive years.

“New York is home to some of the most ardent and knowledgeable MMA fans in the world. UFC’s television ratings and PPV purchases by New Yorkers are among the best in the nation, and they are eager to attend events in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and of course the iconic Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center,” Fertitta said.

“We wanted to create a new vehicle for these passionate New York fans to demonstrate their support for legalizing MMA in New York and use their grassroots strength to convince Members of the Assembly that they can’t wait any longer to bring the world’s fastest growing sport to the Empire State,” Fertitta said. “I’ve travelled across the state and was in Albany just last month. I constantly hear from fans eager to help and now we’ve provided a way for them to do just that.

“By providing your name, email, and zip code, you are joining tens of thousands of other New Yorkers in telling the State Assembly, ‘legalize MMA in New York NOW,’ ” Fertitta said.

Fertitta also announced, that when New York residents sign up as part of the grassroots team to legalize MMA, they will receive a free one-month membership to the UFC digital streaming service,

“As our optimism grows that 2015 will finally be the year, we want to say ‘thank you’ to New Yorkers for the support they have shown and continue to show,” Fertitta said. “When residents of New York officially join our team to fight for legalization of MMA in New York, they will receive a complimentary free one-month subscription to UFC FIGHT PASS.

“We continue to have strong bipartisan support for this commonsense effort – which will also go a long way in protecting thousands who compete in amateur MMA in New York, although it is unregulated – and this year it passed the State Senate by the largest margin ever, 47-14,” Fertitta said. “We urge supporters to call or write their Assembly Member to tell him or her that you support legalizing and regulating professional MMA in New York.”

Monday, April 13, 2015

Days of Future Past: What to Expect When the Law Changes


It's impossible to predict the future - even a future that could be upon us in as little as a few weeks - but there is insight to be had from looking carefully at the past. Such is the case with the Combative Sports Law, which was enacted in 1997 to ban MMA from New York, and which may soon be dramatically altered to bring sanctioned iterations of the sport into the state's rich and fertile lands. Or something like that. What exactly is going to happen if and when the MMA bill hits the Assembly floor and passes in a whirlwind of bipartisan support? What specifically is going to change? No one can say with any certainty, but this is what happened when the ban first went into effect, and that should provide us with some hints.

New York Fight Exchange 7 Poster


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Victory VIII and the Unbreakable Rob Ovalle


Unbreakable iron. That's the best way to describe Rob Ovalle, who wears Victory Combat Sports' welterweight crown atop his head and who, at Friday night's Victory VIII installment in the basement of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan, defended his title with an almost inhuman resilience that was matched only by his skill.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Legislative Scorecard: More Crucial Assembly Members to Be Swayed


It cannot be overstated how important it is to sway those Assemblymembers who have yet to take a stance on MMA legislation. After all, when the 100-member Democratic conference convenes after April 21, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wants to see who's in favor of letting the MMA bill going to the floor for a vote, the fate of the sport will literally rest in the raised hands of the Democrats in that chamber who are still on the fence.

Below are more names of those "undecideds". At this very moment, the opposition is calling each one individually and giving them various outlandish reasons why the sport shouldn't be sanctioned in New York. Really. So call or email them, because the scales need to be tipped the other way.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Legislative Scorecard: The Undecideds


The Assembly is on Easter break right now, but when they return on April 21 one of the items they'll tackle is the MMA bill, which will be discussed in a closed-door Democratic conference. An informal "for" and "against" tally tells us that seven of the 23 Assemblymembers who are undecided about MMA must be swayed for the bill to make it from the conference to the floor. Just seven. And then the UFC can come to Madison Square Garden in December like they want to.

Here are some of the Assemblymembers who have yet to give the sport the thumbs up or thumbs down. Each of them holds a position of leadership. Remember: If you reach out to them, BE RESPECTFUL.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Legislative Scorecard: Those Against MMA in New York


The UFC's lawsuit is on ice. The Senate has passed their version of the MMA bill. Ronda Rousey has supposedly charmed the governor into supporting MMA legislation. And now, with the task of ironing out the state budget out of the way, the Assembly is on vacation and will return on April 21; shortly after they return, they will mull over the subject of sanctioned cagefighting in a closed-door conference. We have roughly 69 Assemblymembers ready to vote for MMA in that conference, about eight very much against it, and 23 undecided. Since we need 76 votes in favor, that means seven of those who are sitting on the fence must be converted.

I don't follow any other sports so maybe this analogy is a little off, but it's the bottom of the ninth inning, we need to score a touchdown, and someone just passed us the puck.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Analyzing the UFC's New York Lawsuit: What Went Wrong, What Went Right


One of the most aggravating things in the world is the Monday Morning Quarterback, who freely gives out his opinion on matters he observed while sitting comfortably in his La-Z-Boy recliner. But on the flipside, there's a reason military operations culminate in debriefings and after-action reports, and that reason is to learn something. This analysis - which will examine what went wrong as well as what went right with Zuffa's lawsuit against the State Attorney General of New York over the ban on pro MMA - is meant to be more of the latter.