Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Old Guard, Unions, and an Open Letter to Dana White

Considering that it has been about a month since Assemblyman Farrell, Chairman of the Assembly Ways & Means Committee, stamped out MMA's chances in NY for 2011, this week has shown an unusual amount of local news stories and buzz regarding the sport in NY. This is a good thing because it is now that we need to keep pushing the issue. I am glad to see many people continuing the fight!

Of particular interest was one editorial by Matthew Ryder in the Bleacher Report in which he places a lion's share of blame (appropriately in my opinion) for MMA's failure in NY squarely on the old guard of sports media. The editorial is worth reading for an accurate perspective that is all too often swept under the rug.

The second piece of NY MMA media this week came in the form of an appearance by UFC President Dana White on the Opie & Anthony show. Mr. White continued to blame the culinary union for defeating MMA in NY as a putative measure against the embattled Fertitta brothers (majority owners of the UFC) who run the non-union Station Casino chain in Las Vegas.

I have commented on the fallacy of this line of thinking prior and most recently pointed out that despite a desire to find a "big bad wolf" at the root of NY's MMA problems, the reality is that it is a few old powerful men in Albany who simply don't want the sport in our state.

In response to Mr. White's continued placing of blame on the unions, Peter Lampasona published an open letter to Mr. White strongly encouraging him to reconsider Zuffa's tactics in NY and employ of Global Strategy Group, Zuffa's NY PR firm.
Dear Dana White,

I'm writing you this letter to discuss an issue that affects people at every level of the mixed martial arts industry: the sanctioning of the sport in the state of New York. Specifically, I'd like to call to your attention some concerns that I and other MMA supporters in the state have with Global Strategy Group, the public affairs and research firm that Zuffa has hired to represent their interests on the sanctioning issue.

I've written this communication as an open letter rather than a private one for two reasons. First, I feel that while you and other members of Zuffa have the greatest interest in knowing what an independent contractor under your employ has been doing, the information contained in this letter is important for everyone to know if MMA is to succeed in the Empire State in 2012. Second, I understand that you are one of the busiest men in the industry and the only way this letter will seem important enough to be worth reading is if the MMA community at large agrees that it is important, before hand....

To read the rest of Mr. Lampasona's letter, click here

This recent flurry of local media activity regarding MMA in NY shows us that the fight is not even close to being over. We have built up tremendous momentum this year in our battle for legal MMA in NY and the battle is obviously raging on despite the best efforts of a few not-so-good men in Albany.

For a solid post mortem on the 2011 battle for MMA in NY, listen to this episode of No Holds Barred with Eddie Goldman and myself.

Stephen Koepfer
Founder, Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York.

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