Opinion: UFC and MMA Bogged Down In New York
By Jesse Heitz
Well fight fans; here we are again, covering the trodden ground that is the fight for MMA’s legalization in the great state of New York. Unfortunately, as reported here at Full Contact Fighter, the news is not of the sort that we had hoped to hear. Word recently came down that the New York State Assembly will shelve its legalization bill until next year due to a lack of support in the State House.
UFC Chairman and CEO, Lorenzo Fertitta, sharply conveyed his unadulterated frustration toward the outcome of the bill in an official UFC press release, which reads in part,
“While our disappointment cannot be overstated, our commitment to seeing New York legalize the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world is intact and undeterred. We continue to strongly believe that legalizing and regulating MMA in New York is the right thing for the state economically, the right thing for the millions of fans in New York and the right thing for the safety and benefit of the thousands of professional and amateur MMA athletes across the state.”
“This year’s new, absurd, offensive, and completely erroneous charge used to justify the defeat of MMA legislation was that MMA is anti-woman and leads to domestic violence. This is a deception fabricated by a Las Vegas union that is recklessly and callously trying to use an important societal issue to try and punish the UFC. It isn’t honest and doesn’t work.”
“Speaker Silver said legalizing MMA in New York is ‘inevitable’ and we agree. It is discouraging that the Speaker does not yet believe that the bill has garnered the support of his conference, however, we appreciate that he has brought it to conference for the last two years and we are convinced that the third time will be the charm. To paraphrase a famous movie line, we’ll be back.”
State Assembly Minority Leader, Brian Kolb, also conveyed his annoyance and disgust with the bill’s postponement, stating in an article published by Fighters Only, that,
“The majority’s decision to block mixed martial arts legislation despite bipartisan support in both conferences is another case of politics being put ahead of people. Is it any wonder why New Yorkers grow more and more disenfranchised with state government?
“At a time when we should be doing everything in our power to demonstrate that we listen to constituents, that political dysfunction is a thing of the past, that the interests of a few don’t outweigh the interests of the public, the majority inexplicably refused to debate or consider a job-creating measure that would have likely passed in the Assembly.
“It’s a disservice to the legislative process, to the 63 sponsors of the bill, and to the people who elected us.”
So, the bomb has dropped. Some might ask, well what do we do now. The answer is simple, we pick up the pieces and move on, but before we do I think that some very well-deserved venting is in order. And as can be seen above, some of the most active parties in the legalization battle have already weighed in.
The necessity of MMA’s legalization has been beaten to death, and anyone with any intellectual capacity, or in possession of a mere semblance of rationality, can’t hope to provide a convincing argument against MMA’s legalization. It’s really that simple.
The benefits of the legalization of MMA are wide. Estimates of MMA’s financial impact in New York vary by source, but all estimate annual revenue generation in the tens of millions of dollars. This would certainly be a step in the right direction for the residents of a state that lags behind the national average in several key economic areas, most notably unemployment. Are these blockading politicians really opposed to helping to foster financial stability for their constituents?
Some critics, notably the poorly informed and generally unfamiliar with the sport variety, throw around baseless accusations that MMA is anti-gay, that it promotes violence against women, and is veritable barbarism. All of which is utterly atrocious nonsense with nary a modicum of truth.
So then, what’s the real motivation for a small coalition of old curmudgeons to stall out the state-wide adoption of a sport that its residents and business community overwhelmingly supports? Is this obstinance some sort of backwards way to protect the boxing Mecca from the sacrilegious invasion of a different combat sport? Do they simply not understand the sport? Or are these politicians simply slippery and unresponsive crooks that seek to pursue their own interests rather than those of whom they represent? Perhaps “all of the above” is the answer to the aforementioned questions.
In any case, these politicians need to bear in mind that MMA’s spread and surge in popularity won’t be singlehandedly stopped by New York. Certainly, New York serving as a host to MMA would benefit the sport, but when the rubber hits the road, the benefits of MMA’s entrance into the state would have a far greater impact on the New Yorkers themselves, particularly those of working and, perhaps more importantly, voting age.