Saturday, January 29, 2011

Coalition Co-Founders on "All Night with Joey Reynolds."

Co-founders of the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York Eddie Goldman (Journalist/No Holds Barred) and Stephen Koepfer (Head Coach/New York Combat Sambo) will be appearing on "All Night with Joey Reynolds" on NBC New York Non Stop. Also appearing with Eddie and Stephen will be Bradley Desir (New York Combat Sambo/MMA fighter) and Tyga Maclin (New York Combat Sambo's wrestling coach).

The show airs on Thursday, Feb 3rd at midnight (Thursday night/Friday morning) and MMA discussion will take place in the second hour. Topics of discussion will include mixed martial arts, legalization, what the sport is and is not, and the future of the sport in New York. Brad and Tyga will be demonstrating some techniques live!

NBC NY Non-Stop airs on the following tri-state area cable channels:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UPDATED: The 2011 bills are here! Do your homework folks!

The 2011 Senate and Assembly bills have been introduced. Take some time to read these bills and know what your are fighting for, what you want to support, and what you think needs improvement!

In the Senate:
Bill S01707
Introduced by: Senator Joseph A Griffo (R-C-IP, Rome)
Co-Sponsored by: Kevin S Parker (D-Brooklyn), Senator Lee M. Zeldin (R, C, I - Long Island), Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), Parker, Avella, Gianaris (D, Astoria), Grisanti, Kennedy, Peralta
Read the Senate bill here

In the Assembly:
Bill A04146
Introduced by: Englebright
Co-Sponsored by: Bing, Hevesi, Peoples-Stokes, Zebrowski, Rivera J, Schroeder, Linares, Simotas, Moya, Murray.
Mltsponsored by:  Boyle, Crouch, Curran, Katz, McKevitt, Rabbitt, Raia, Saladino, Wright
Read the Assembly bill here

Take some time to read Peter Lampasona's assessment of the new bills:
US Combat Sports: Senate MMA Bill May Change the Face of New York Combat Sports

Impending Coalition Roundtable Discussion Making Waves

Roundtable Discussion may be Rallying Cry for New York MMA
By Peter Lampasona of US Combat Sports

This Thursday, January 27th, the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York will be holding a round table discussion of New York area gym owners, members of the MMA community, and state politicians on the sanctioning of the combat sport in the Empire State. The purpose of the meeting is to open a dialogue for the expectations and concerns of interested businesses leading up to the pro-MMA rally in front of City Hall on February 8th....

Read the complete article here

Due to the NY Snow storm, this meeting has been re-scheduled for February 3rd at noon

Monday, January 24, 2011

No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman - MMA in NY!

In this episode of No Holds Barred, Eddie talks about the history of MMA in New York, concerns regarding fighter safety, and the need to hit the streets for the professional sport we love at the Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY rally on February 8th! Also on the episode is an exclusive interview with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.

No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Commentary: MMA Education Necessary!

Good friend of our Coalition, Justin Klein, published an important assessment on the need to educate mainstream media as to what the professional sport of mixed martial arts actually is if we hope to affect voters, who in turn will affect our elected officials.
... I think there is room for improvement in the MMA legalization effort. Economic benefit to the state alone may influence some politicians, but it is clear that there has to be an understanding about the sport, the safety record, the regulations in place, the need to curb unregulated “underground” fighting in the state etc. within the local non-MMA media before we can expect the voters in New York to voice their support for the bill.
Read Justin Klein's entire article here at MMA Payout

I could not agree with Justin more. There are several recent examples of just how ignorant the mainstream media is when it comes to mixed martial arts coverage; and how disinterested they (the editors and writers) are in providing proper coverage, gaining the proper education, and doing the proper research. Of course there are exceptions, but the norm is not encouraging.

On January 13th, the UFC held press conference at New York's Madison Square Garden [see my editorial here]. As expected, the presser was packed with those in the know (the MMA media) as well as many reporters from the mainstream media. What resulted from the presser were several stories, news items, articles, etc., covering the UFC's press conference and the effort to legalize MMA in New York.

Let's look at some examples:

In this article by Carl Campanile of the New York Post, the headline reads MSG goes to the mat for ultimate fighting.

Once again our sport is labeled ultimate fighting. Nearly twenty years have passed since the birth of our sport, the latter decade of which has seen the near ubiquitous use of the unified rules with regulation in 44 states, and we still have to tolerate misrepresentation of our professional sport by writers like Campanile.

Our sport has a name. It is called mixed martial arts. Let me clarify something here once and for all folks, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is not the championship of ultimate fighting. It is the ultimate in fighting championships. The difference may seem semantic, but it is far from a minor point. The UFC is a brand, as is Strikeforce, M1 Global, Bellator, and many other smaller promotions like King of the Cage, Ring of Combat, Ring of Fire, etc. All of these brands represent the professional sport of mixed martial arts, not ultimate fighting.

Campanile's opening remarks go on to state:

The head of Madison Square Garden Sports said yesterday he's ready to spar with Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature to allow controversial professional cage fighting at The World's Most Famous Arena.
Here we are again at another educational moment. For the vast majority of people mixed martial arts is not controversial. Labels like these will never help to legalize the professional sport of mixed martial arts. I would argue that mixed martial arts in New York is far from controversial. In fact, most voters and fans are apathetic on the are most politicians unfortunately. The vocal opposition in Albany is exactly that...more vocal. They also happen to be in the minority. This is the type of coverage that the mainstream media willfully neglects so they may push their stories about "controversial" and mis-labeled sports so they can get more readers and hits on their websites.

Just as our professional sport is not controversial, it is also not called cage fighting. Again, the term refers to a particular venue in which the professional sport of mixed martial arts may take place. In fact, mixed martial arts can take place in a cage, a ring, or on a mat. According to last year's New York State Assembly Bill AO2009, the venue for mixed martial arts is described as follows:

Rings or Fighting Areas: No professional combative sports match or exhibition or training activity shall be permitted in any ring or fighting area unless such ring or fighting area has been inspected and approved by the commission. The commission shall prescribe standard acceptable size and quality requirements for rings or fighting areas and appurtenances thereto.
Not once is the term cage used to describe our sport's arena. The continued use of the term cage fighting is outright inaccurate and harmful. But these are issues that any good journalist should know if they take the time to research the topics they write about? Right?

Here is how New York 1 News covered the story:

"They call themselves ultimate fighters. But do these tough guys have what it takes to win in Albany and legalize the sport in the Empire State?"


"Governor David Paterson proposed legalizing ultimate fighting as a way to raise money for the cash-strapped state."


"Marist Poll conducted in January of last year found that 68 percent of voters don't want ultimate fighting legalized in New York."
Aside from inaccurate terminology, what bothered me most about this piece is the lack of balanced coverage. Once again, we hear the opposition's argument that the professional sport of mixed martial arts is too violent (in the form of Assemblyman Bob Reilly) with no counter argument. Yet, NY 1 failed to note the presence of Assemblyman Dean Murray, who spoke in favor of mixed martial arts.

Furthermore, where were the facts that establish the falsehood of these opposition positions? The only supportive argument given in favor of MMA legalization was New York State's need for the financial benefits of MMA regulation. So, the lay person is left with the message that the professional sport of mixed martial arts is too violent, but we should legalize it for the money.

In this coverage by New York Post reporter Megan Paznik we again see our sport labeled as ultimate fighting in Paznik's video. The opening line of her NY Post video is as follows:

Punching and kicking below the belt may bring jobs, money, and new sports entertainment to New York City and the state if mixed martial arts competitions are approved by the New York State legislature
Those of us at the press conference were well aware that Paznik had no knowledge regarding the sport she was sent to cover for the NY Post. The end result being a story that suggests mixed martial artists are dirty fighters (punching below the belt). Yet, what is more troubling than Paznik's story is the fact that the Post chose her to cover the press conference and what little editorial oversight they showed in approving the final video.

In the days since the presser Paznik has received quite a bit of flack from MMA fans for her poor coverage of the sport. And she does deserve some criticism for not doing her research on a story she knew she was not qualified to report on. However, in my opinion, it is the NY Post editors who deserve the lion's share of the blame for not caring enough about the story to send a qualified reporter to the scene. I would add that it was disappointing to see the loss of a great teaching moment by UFC President Dana White, who was questioned by Paznik while at the podium. White had a moment, in front of the cameras to actually teach a member of the mainstream press about the sport we love. He failed to act, and in my opinion, also shares some of the blame for the resulting NY Post video.

In the end, educating the main stream press is a huge effort that needs to be tackled. I have point out stories in the past where our sport has been misrepresented. As Klein points out in his article, the media needs to be educated if we hope to have voters get the right message.

Stephen Koepfer
Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What!? Mixed Martial Arts has Virtues?

In today's NY Daily News, Damon Young has written a great piece on the need for MMA's legalization/regulation in New York and the virtues of mixed martial arts. Yes...that's right...the VIRTUES of MMA.

It is not often that we see mainstream media outlets treating mixed martial arts with the respect and truthfulness it deserves; not the inaccurate spin that is unfortunately so common. So, please take a moment to read Mr. Young's piece and send it to anyone you know who needs some education regarding the sport we love.

Legalizing mixed martial arts in New York shouldn't be a steel-caged match. By Damon Young

Friday, January 14, 2011

UFC 155lb Champ Frankie Edgar Talks Legalization of MMA in NY

Stephen Koepfer of the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York talks with UFC 155lb Champion Frankie Edgar about legalization of MMA in NY.

Editorial: UFC Press Conference - Was the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Generally speaking, any positive attention given to the need for legalization and regulation of mixed martial arts in New York State is a great thing. The UFC, being the largest and most well known mixed martial arts promotional company, has the pulpit and pocketbook to do just that. On Thursday, January 13th, I attended the UFC press conference held at world famous Madison Square Garden (MSG). In attendance were UFC 155lb Champion Frankie Edgar, UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC President Dana White, and Steve Scott O'Neil, representing MSG.

The stated goals of the gathering were to once again publicly push for legalized mixed martial arts in New York, re-state the UFC's desire to host events in New York with MSG, and present the economic benefits of hosting professional mixed martial arts in New York in the form of a new financial analysis.

To nobody's surprise the economic report, a revision of an earlier study, revealed how much money New York could make from professional mixed martial arts events held in the state. Again to nobody's surprise, the UFC and MSG re-affirmed their desire to work together. All the panelists publicly supported regulating mixed martial arts in New York. Of course this is all great news as fans would love to see a UFC show at the Garden.

But, the conclusion of the presser left those in attendance wondering what the point really was. What was the point of a hastily arranged PR event, which only served to re-state the obvious? Where was the grand plan? What was the UFC going to do to help mixed martial arts get legalized in New York? How was the UFC going to work with local groups like The Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York and others, who have been the boots on the ground of this battle since 1997? There was talk of grass roots movements but, no practical evidence of it at the event.

According to Global Strategy Group (the UFC's PR firm), the event was designed to target the ears of Governor Andrew Cuomo. New York's newly elected Governor has benefited from Zuffa's tremendous financial campaign contributions [as evidenced in the links below]:

Zuffa Lining NY Governor Candidate Andrew Cuomo's Pockets In The Hopes To Legalize MMA In NY

UFC goes another round in effort for N.Y. sanction

Yet, Cuomo has remained silent on the issue to date. At the conclusion of Thursday's UFC press conference, I was left wondering what new information had really been offered up for our Governor's consideration. Cuomo surely knows the financial benefits of mixed martial arts.

I was also left wondering why there were no New Yorkers from the mixed martial arts community speaking at the event. Who was going to tell Cuomo about the financial realities of trying to run a gym in New York? Who was going to share with Cuomo that within the last few months several gyms in Manhattan alone have had to close down? Who was going to explain to Cuomo what it takes for New York based fighters to engage in the sport they love out of state...and how much that costs?

One gem who revealed himself at Thursday's press conference was Junior Assemblyman Dean Murray (R, C-East Patchogue). Assemblyman Murray, not on the UFC's invite list, came of his own volition to speak in support of reaching across the aisle to once and for all regulate mixed martial arts in 2011. Assemblyman Murray's unscheduled appearance demonstrated to me that NY is primed to have a grass roots movement [See links below]:

Assemblyman Dean Murray Supports MMA at UFC Presser

In the end, I was left disappointed by Thursday's press conference. It is admirable that the UFC will publicly state its support for mixed martial arts in New York. But, as the largest MMA company with the loudest bullhorn, I had much higher expectations. I know the UFC can do better.

Stephen Koepfer
Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Justin Klein pushes our February 8th Rally and the Coalition on Tapout Radio

Thanks to our friend the Fight Lawyer, Justin Klein, for his support and willingness tosupport us this week on Tapout Radio!

January 10, 2011 - Tapout Radio with Justin Klein

Be sure to check out Justin's blog at

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Commercial for February 8th Rally to Legalize MMA in NY

Hi all,

A big thanks to The Fight Nerd who helped produce this commercial for our rally on February 8th. Please take the time to visit his website! He is a valued member of our coalition!

Everyone link the video everywhere you can! Let's get the word out!

UFC and MSG Rejoin Biggest Push Yet for MMA in New York. By Peter Lampasona of US Combat Sports

"Continuing its spearhead roll in the expansion of mixed martial arts, world's largest MMA promotion The Ultimate Fighting Championship will be making its first official announcement of intent to host a show in Madison Square Garden this Thursday [January 13, 2011]. According to a story broken earlier today by MMA Fighting correspondent Mike Chiapetta, the UFC press conference in MSG on Thursday, which will have UFC president Dana White, Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, and former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans present, is to announce the organization will hold a Pay Per View in Manhattan during 2011...

"The effort to see America's youngest and fastest growing combat sport is growing from all sides at the start of the 2011 year. At the local side of the political effort, The Coalition to Legalize MMA in New York released this week an online advertisement for the February 8th rally to support MMA in front of city hall. Zuffa is yet to comment on if it will be supporting the rally..."

Read the complete story here

Public Forum: Issues Surrounding the Legalization of Mixed Martial Arts in NY (January 26, 2011)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Location: 14 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10007

Time: 6:00pm

Panelists will discuss the legal and regulatory issues relating to the legalization of mixed martial arts in New York, as well as its potential economic impact if it were legalized.

Organized by the Entertainment, Media, Intellectual Property and Sports Law Committee (EMIPS) of the The New York County Lawyers’ Association.

Find out more here

Legalize The Empire sit with Stephen Koepfer of the Coalition to Legalize MMA in New York

Steven Jefferies from "Legalize The Empire" sat down with Stephen Koepfer of the Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY for their premier episode of "Legalize TV". Thanks for the support Steven! We are glad to be working together.

Legalize TV: Episode 1

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Violence Illusion. By Steven Jefferies of Legalize the Empire

"A Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study analyzing injuries in mixed martial arts offers a revealing conclusion. The study shows that the risk of traumatic brain injury is less in MMA than in boxing, while risk of minor injuries is about equivalent in MMA and boxing (see the study). Intuitively, this makes sense for 3 reasons..."

Read the complete article here

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New York's Legislative Calendar is up!

I hope everyone is getting their letter writing up to speed! The New York Legislative Calendar is up and our representatives need to hear that we want legalized and regulated Mixed Martial Arts! Better yet, call your representative and ask for a meeting to sit down and speak about the issue face to face!

NY Legislative Calendar

If you need to know how to write to your representative, watch this video:

A History Lesson (or History’s Lesson) on Mixed Martial Arts in New York. By Justin Klein

If you have found your way to this website, it means you have some desire to learn more about the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York and legalizing MMA in New York State. I highly suggest you read this article by Justin Klein. It should be considered NY MMA 101 for all who wish to be educated on the topic. Please take some time to get up to speed as to how we got to the point we are today in New York State!

"...the story is full of twists and turns and a lot of confusion and flip-flopping—especially among the politicians in New York.  As I started pulling together the research I couldn’t help but note the parallels and similarities between the struggle in the 1990s and the struggle taking place now.  Of course, the sport is vastly different now (for the better), which is a truth that is lost on the opposition."
Read the full article here

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Outgoing New York Assemblyman Urges MMA Supporters to Look to Women Legislators

Fmr Assemblyman Benjamin encourages votes to contact female legistators in New York (Since this show, I have already approached Assemblywoman Titus, Chair of the Womens' Legislative Caucus, for a meeting).

Also in this article are highlights of our discussion on Cage Radio with Assemblyman Benjamin concerning:
-Key votes
-The importance of talking to legislators
-The February 8th Rally
-Last year's vote on the MMA bill
-Unseen benefits of Mixed Martial Arts

US COMBAT SPORTS - Outgoing New York Assemblyman Urges MMA Supporters to Look to Women Legislators. By Peter Lampasona

Voice your support for our February 8th Rally!

Hi all,

As many of you might know, the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York is having a rally on February 8th in lower Manhattan (see attached) in front of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office. I am currently working on a video commercial with The Fight Nerd to encourage people to come to this rally.

I have a BIG favor to ask all of you who own martial arts gyms in New York State!

What I need you all to do is film yourself in your gym (or in front of your gym) encouraging people to come to the rally and support legalization of MMA in NYS. You can use any kind of digital camera you like, however the best format would be .mov. Next best is mpeg. But, in the end, whatever format you can get us is fine.

I need to you do do this ASAP. We would like to get all the videos compiled by this coming Friday. Your video should be VERY QUICK and follow the following script or a similar variant:

"Hi, my name is _________ and I own ______________ gym in ___________, New York. I want you to support legalized Mixed Martial Arts in New York State by coming to the NY MMA NOW rally on February 8th."

Please file share your video to the Fight Nerd at:

If you have never file shared anything, you can use for free. If your video is very short (which it should be!), regular e-mail may work.

We really need you to do this for our fellow NY MMA fans and supports ASAP. We hope to have the commercial done by the end of next week. Please forward this request to any NY State Gym Owner you know!

Thanks in advance! Let's show our government that NY business owners want Legal MMA...and let's get people to this rally!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Now is the time to legalize MMA. Editorial by Fmr NY Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx)

Over the last year or more, I have advocated for the legalization and regulation of professional mixed martial arts (MMA).  In 2009, and in last year’s state budget, with New York facing large fiscal deficits, I supported legalizing MMA because of its tremendous revenue generating potential.  With 44 states, the District of Columbia, and many countries around the globe regulating the sport, and reaping the economic rewards of holding professional bouts and exhibitions, New York can ill afford to remain on the sidelines as the only state with an outright ban. In 2011, the State Legislature must pass legislation authorizing the State Athletic Commission to regulate Mixed Martial Arts, the fastest growing sport in the world.

Independent economic studies have verified that just one MMA show in New York City would generate over $11 million and a show in upstate New York would generate over $5 million.  MMA exhibitions fill hotel rooms and restaurants over the course of a full weekend, stimulating locally depressed economic businesses and regions.  Many states including New Jersey and Pennsylvania have had huge success in hosting MMA exhibitions.  A recent MMA exhibition in Newark, New Jersey sold out with gate receipts alone totaling $4 million -- including many ticket sold to New Yorkers.

The popularity and mainstream acceptance of the sport is evident by the major sponsors of the exhibitions, which include Microsoft, Budweiser and the US Army.  MMA has even been featured in one of Disney’s most popular television series, iCarly.  Further, ESPN now covers the sports, and it is broadcast regularly on MSG, Spike and Versus cable networks; a major network has broadcast three MMA exhibitions in prime time on a Saturday evening.

Safety of MMA participants is paramount, and the proposed language of previous Senate and Assembly bills ensure that New York will be one of the most diligent states in enforcing safety measures.  The sport’s safety record – over thousands of bouts – can match and, in most cases, exceed any contact sport.  The sport requires a high degree of physical training and skill, with participants averaging about two matches annually. Regulation will ensure safety by eliminating unsanctioned underground matches that are occurring in New York.

In short, MMA can provide New York, especially upstate communities, such as Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, with a much needed economic boost and help generate revenues for our cash-strapped State.  New York should not continue to sit by as adjoining states and Canadian provinces sponsor MMA shows and reap the economic benefits.  These events would produce approximately $3.5 million in annual General Fund revenue from sales, personal income, business income, broadcast and auto rental taxes. Lastly, state sanction will protect the health and safety of professional and amateur mixed martial artists. The time to legalize MMA is now!

Michael Benjamin
Fmr Assembly Member (D-Bronx)

Assemblyman Bob Reilly Has No Problem with Amateur MMA

Some kernels of agreement from Assemblyman Bob Reilly. An important read. If we can agree on some things, there is room to discuss and agree on more!

Assemblyman Bob Reilly Has No Problem with Amateur MMA. By Peter Lampasona

Assemblyman Michael Benjamin and Stephen Koepfer on Cage Radio Today!

Everybody take some time to listen!

Assemblyman Michael Benjamin and Stephen Koepfer on Cage Radio today!

A Tootsie Roll of Problems...

In the following NY Post article from October 4th, 2010, by Carl Campanile...

...we see why mass education and our movement is so important. Our sport of Mixed Martial Arts is still equated with bare knuckle fighting in this article. The article also labels our sport bare knuckle fighting, cage fighting, and MMA simultaneously. To all you mainstream press folks who may be reading this, it is called Mixed Martial Arts. It is that simple. That is the name of our professional sport. Not bloodsport, cage fighting, bare knuckle fighting, ultimate fighting, no-rules fighting...none of it. Please call it what it is: Mixed Martial Arts.

The second problem identified in this article is that Governor Elect Andrew Cuomo has lined his pockets with $74,600 in lobby dollars from Zuffa Entertainment, and he has not yet made any clear statements on the issue of legalization!

This is why we need to rally on February 8th and put out best, and vocal, foot farward to educate the people of New York AND the politicians of New York. It is our collective voice that will push this issue.

Cagey Cuomo $upporters - NY Post, October, 2010