Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What Will Happen After the New York MMA Bill Passes, Part 1: The Timing


History has been most unkind to proponents of sanctioned mixed martial arts in New York, but the future glimpsed within the shifting sands of the hourglass is more positive than ever. So let's talk about what will happen once the MMA Bill passes and the changes it will bring - specifically, the timing of it all.

The Senate passed their version of the bill on February 1, and delivered it to the Assembly. The Assembly must now do the same to their version (which is identical to the Senate's), and the process contained therein includes approval by three committees and a floor vote, all of which could happen quickly and suddenly. After the Assembly works their magic, the two bills are merged (which, in this instance, means nothing because they're already the same) and handed to the Governor to sign. Only when the Governor signs the approved final bill does it become law.

For the purposes of this discussion, we're going to assume the Assembly tackles the MMA Bill before the March 31 deadline of the state budget (remember: Governor Andrew Cuomo included MMA in his budget proposal). We're also going to assume that the current verbiage contained within the MMA Bill remains the same when the Governor puts pen to paper (there's no reason to think the text will change... but you never know).

The section of the MMA Bill relevant to timing reads, "This act shall take effect on the first day of the first month next succeeding the one hundred twentieth day after it shall become law..." If that sounds confusing, don't worry, it is. But a breakdown of the math helps decipher this tough SAT question.

Let's say the Governor signs the bill on Thursday, March 31. That's when the 120-day clock starts ticking, and it ends on July 29. That would make the "first day of the first month next succeeding" August 1 - meaning, that's when the New Combative Sports Law takes effect. However, if the Governor has the MMA Bill sit untouched on his desk for a couple days, and doesn't sign it until Monday, April 4, that would make September 1 the "first day of the first month succeeding". Since there are so many moving parts in terms of the Assembly passing the bill and the Governor signing the finished product, you can see why it's pretty impossible to pin down an exact date.

Some additional points:

  • The MMA Bill's 120-day "blackout period" means the Athletic Commission has to get their MMA-sanctioning capabilities up to speed in that time. But the Commission can ask for an extension if they need it, and they'd surely be granted that extension (remember: no one wants the first UFC at Madison Square Garden to be a disaster because the Commission wasn't ready).
  • As per the MMA Bill's requirement that amateur combative sports be sanctioned by an approved third-party organization, the days of unregulated amateur MMA events will be over on August 1 or September 1 (or later, depending on the aforementioned moving parts). That is, of course, as long as the Athletic Commission doesn't reach out to the promoters doing shows now and "ask them nicely to stop". Legally, the Commission wouldn't be able to make anyone cease and desist putting on unsanctioned shows before the new law takes effect, but why would a promoter want to butt heads with the state agency they'd be better served getting along with?
  • The UFC's April 23 show at Madison Square Garden is dead without the injunction they'd requested, but the current law and its third-party sanctioning loophole will remain in place until August 1/September 1/etc. However, why would a promoter and/or the WKA want to take that kind of risk and make waves? Once the MMA Bill passes, it's all about New York entering into the era of sanctioned MMA bouts in the state. Acting otherwise is shortsighted and foolish.

Next, "What Will Happen After the New York MMA Bill Passes, Part 2: Amateur MMA".

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