Monday, July 25, 2011

More Union Blues for Zuffa

In the wake of New York's failure to legalize and regulate MMA by the end of the 2011 legislative calendar (last June), Zuffa continues to push their narrative that culinary union resistance is blocking MMA in our state; despite any clear evidence supporting such a story. In recent media appearances, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta have essentially suggested that New York Assembly leadership (read Speaker Sheldon Silver) is in the union's pocket.

In a nutshell, Zuffa's story goes like this:

Majority UFC owners, Frank Fertitta III & Lorenzo Fertitta, also own the non-union Station Casino chain in Nevada. Station Casinos have been involved in a long and arduous battle with Unite Here and its member unions in Nevada (the now bankrupt Station Casinos often on the losing end). In retribution against the Fertittas, Unite Here is blocking MMA in NY through the local cullinary uinion.

Rather than rewrite an entire editorial on the topic, I have continually updated my May 13th editorial as this story has developed over the past months. At the bottom of the page you will find a timeline of stories related to the development of this story. Please take some time to review the evidence and varied opinions for yourself. I am sure many of you are seeing the various stories in the press, scratching your head, and thinking to yourself "this union story does not make sense". And, you are right. It does not make sense. Where was the union resistance in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and other states to recently regulate MMA?

What does make sense is that Zuffa's apparent policy of pushing this union story and airing their own dirty laundry (regardless of whether the unions are actually offering significant resistance) is shooting us in the foot here in New York. Zuffa continually presents themselves as the only faction of the sport that really matters. Many non-fans believe that the UFC is the sport, not that the UFC is part of the sport. In reality, the UFC would only be a small part of the New York MMA community. Yet, the average voter and legislator will associate the Fertittas and their questionable practices in Nevada with the the Sport of MMA as a whole. 

While this strategy may allow the Fertittas to take a few shots at their Nevada opponents, it can't be good for New York MMA.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Official Website for "New York Mixed Martial Arts"

Our acclaimed documentary "New York Mixed Martial Arts" finally has an official website! Everyone please take a moment to check it out.

New York Mixed Martial Arts
(Kahl One Film Productions & The Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY, 2011)

New York Mixed Martial Arts is an enthralling documentary that provides a back seat view of the grass roots struggle to legalize and regulate the professional sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in New York State. New York is one of a handful of states in which MMA is still outlawed; sacrificing athlete safety, jobs and millions of dollars in revenue to neighboring states and countries since 1997. In his first feature length film, martial artist and filmmaker Kahleem Poole – Tejada presents an intimate account of the struggle to legalize MMA through the lens of one amateur fighter’s (Bradley Desir) quest to turn professional under the guidance of his coach (Stephen Koepfer). Viewers are offered a rare glimpse behind the curtain of the political, sometimes frightening, and always exciting world of mixed martial arts.

Stephen Koepfer

Kahleem Poole-Tejada

Levan Reginald Hines

Robert Billings

Bradley Desir
Stephen Koepfer
Tyga Maclin
Eddie Goldman
Paula Romero
Justin Klein

Josh Barnett
Gesias Calvacante
Fedor Emilianenko
Steve Kardian
Steven Katz
Tara LaRosa
New York Assemblyman Dean Murray
Nestor Marte
New York City Councilman Joel Rivera
Bas Rutten
Oleg Savitsky
Frank Shamrock
Mike Straka
Dana White

58 minutes

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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

August 13th screening of "New York Mixed Martial Arts" in Astoria, New York!

Confirmed! We will be having 2 showings of "New York Mixed Martial Arts"at the Bohemian Hall Beer Garden in Astoria. Come support the legalization of Mixed Martial Arts in New York!

Eat, drink, stay for both viewings (the movie is that good!). The free screenings are on Saturday, August 13th at 9pm & 10:30pm. This is a fundraiser for the film. We will be collecting donations to help support the promotion of the movie.

The outdoor beer garden is located at: 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, New York 11102. For directions, click here

Thanks to Anastasios Mylonas and Pankration Kerberos for sponsoring us!