No More UFC Ban in New York
Dana White has had dreams of booking his fights in Madison Square Garden since the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but the UFC ban in the state of New York has kept that dream – a dream. He even hoped Jones’ return to the octagon would be in the Garden in April. Well, Dana White’s dream may finally come true. New York has finally lifted the UFC ban on mixed martial arts with a 113-25 Assembly vote.
MMA has been banned in the state of New York since 1997. After watching clips of the first MMA event held in Buffalo, New York in 1995, then-New York State Senator, Roy Goodman, declared it his personal mission to ban “ultimate fighting.” Goodman believes, “These fights are no different from street brawls, moved into arenas and organized by promoters for profit. Cockfighting and dog fighting are illegal, but because of an ambiguity in the law, it is unclear whether unregulated ultimate-fighting contests are illegal.”
Mixed martial arts was actually legalized in New York in October of 1996 by then-Governor, George Pataki. However, Pataki turned around and banned the sport in February of 1997. In his Executive Memorandum, he was hopeful other states across the country would ban what he considered to be a senseless and degrading activity. The fight against MMA has been long and odd. Eventually, every state in the country legalized the sport. New York held out and MMA continued to be banned in the state, until yesterday.
Not An Easy Pitch
White has been lobbying for years with the help of Lorenzo Fertitta, Chris Wiedman, Ronda Rousey and others to get the ban lifted. The UFC organization sued New York to lift the UFC ban, alleging the prohibition was unconstitutional. In a 107-page document, the lawsuit says the ban makes no sense because the state of New York allows MMA gyms, amateur fights and many of the component disciplines of mixed martial arts.
Majority leader in the New York state assembly, Joseph Morelle, echoed that very sentiment as he voted in favor of legalizing MMA in the state. He believes the bill, “simply merges those single disciplines into a single sport.” The majority of his peers have finally agreed and Governor Andrew Cuomo is slated to officially sign off on the bill. Once the ink hits the paper, the New York State Athletic Commission has up to 120 days to adopt guidelines for the sport. This must take place before an event can be held in Madison Square Garden or anywhere else in the state.
With the official finish line in sight, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta is ecstatic about getting rid of the UFC ban and bringing UFC to Madison Square Garden. He promises to put together the best matches with the biggest names available at the time. Fox Sports is undoubtedly ecstatic over the expansion of the sport. UFC is nearing the end of its seven year deal with Fox Sports. In what is being called the strongest partnership with a sports league, the ability to host fights in a city which tourists flock to is sure to bring Fox Sports and UFC loads of more cash.