Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Top Five of 2015 Countdown - #4: The USMTA

NEW YORK


We're counting down the top five most notable aspects of New York MMA from 2015, and we're up to...

#4: The USMTA - By now the story is so old it's growing grey hairs: The UFC filed a lawsuit against the State of New York in late 2011, claiming the law banning MMA was Unconstitutional, and in early 2012, in a legal brief that was responding to those claims, the State Attorney General offhandedly admitted that amateur MMA wasn't banned at all. Thus the modern amateur MMA scene in New York was born, and with that birth came the inclination for some promoters to "do things by the book" and be sanctioned.


Obviously, the New York State Athletic Commission couldn't do it (the law prevents them), so some went with the World Kickboxing Association (WKA), which has been sanctioning kickboxing here for years. Others went with the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA), whose track record throughout the country is strong and lengthy. And then there was the United State Muay Thai Association (USMTA), who formed an amateur MMA-centric arm called the Muay Boran League, and carved out a name for themselves as not just a viable alternative, but as a third-party sanctioning organization with more experience keeping fighters in New York cages safe than anyone.

The numbers don't lie. While the WKA has sanctioning duties for the venerable New York Fight Exchange and Friday Night Fights kickboxing show, 2015 saw the USMTA supervise the likes of Victory Combat Sports, Take It To The Top, MMA Platinum Gloves on Long Island, RAVE Promotions, and of course the Aggressive Combat Championships (whose co-promoter, Tom Kilkenny, wears a USMTA hat when not wearing an ACC one).

The USMTA also regularly hosts seminars where they train their officials, and there are numerous instances of them preventing mismatches, stopping suspended fighters from stepping into the cage, and pulling sanctioning from promoters who try to bend the rules.

The notion of sanctioning being a necessity has since worn off, with promoters eventually realizing that it's not a legal requirement. As a result, the ISKA closed up shop in the Empire State, and of the 70 amateur MMA events that took place in 2015, only a fraction deigned to use the services of a third-party organization, which put more fighters at risk than ever before. Yet the USMTA has kept at it.

As sanctioning goes, the WKA is great - they are, in fact, the organization the UFC will use in April if their Madison Square Garden show goes down. But in terms of MVP status in 2015, that honor goes to the USMTA, which has grown, sharpened its game, turned into a well-oiled machine, and become something synonymous with "safety". No organization is perfect - even well-funded athletic commissions make mistakes - but in New York, the USMTA is as good as it gets.

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