Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There can be only one (first sanctioned NY MMA in 10 years that is)

Last January, when New York State admitted that amateur MMA was legal in NY and not under the purview of the NYS Athletic Commission, it made little news outside the local NY MMA community. NYS gave up this juicy tidbit (one that most of us locals knew already) in order to defend the larger battle brewing in the federal lawsuit Zuffa et al is waging against the ban on live professional mixed martial arts.

But, those paying attention, myself included, knew this was a big deal. Did NYS just admit that amateur MMA was legal? Despite years of trying to convince us otherwise? Really? Those of us paying attention to anything other than UFC spin on the issue were left wondering who would be the first to host an amateur event after the state's recent admission that it was legal. The last non-underground show in NY was Lou Neglia's "Vengeance at the Vanderbilt" on June 28, 2002. That was around the time NYS started kicking it into high gear, shutting everything down that they could in order to stamp out MMA once an for all.

So, were any sanctioning bodies out there listening last January? Would they test the state and host an event? The answer is yes. Someone was listening.

The USMTA, who regularly sanctions amateur Muay Thai, will take NYS at their word. On May 19, 2012 the USMTA will sanction the TNT Fight Series in Tonowanda, NY. Fighters will come from Hawaii, Florida, Ohio, Canada, and of course NEW YORK to be on the first sanctioned MMA card in our state in 10 years.

So, from the Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY, we offer a big note of thanks to the USMTA for stepping up.

* Thanks as always to Jim Genia for the fact checking ;)


Saturday, March 24, 2012

April 6, 2012: Symposium in Combat Sports Medicine. Morristown, NJ.

To all my MMA coach and trainer peers, if you are able, this event is well worth attending!
I hope to see you there!

The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB), the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) Medical Chair and lead MMA/Muay Thai physician for the NJSACB, Dr. Sherry Wulkan, in conjunction with Atlantic Health of Morristown Hospital, is pleased to announce a CME accredited symposium in Combat Sports Medicine.

When:   Friday, April 6, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 5:45 PM EDT
Where:  Atlantic Sports Health Conference Center.

               111 Madison Avenue - 4th Floor.
               Morristown, NJ 07960

“The symposium kicks off the first Combat Sports fellowship elective in the nation. We believe this approach toward proactively training physicians in the nuances of Combat Sports medicine will help meet the need for well versed ringside doctors for these increasingly popular athletic contests now and in the future...In the interest of fighter health and safety, we hope both the symposium and this novel approach to Sports Medicine Fellowship training, sparks interest in incorporating Combat Sports Medicine into medical curricula throughout the country.” - Dr. Wulkan

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coalition Rally Get Coverage in the New Yorker

The March 19, 2012 issue of The New Yorker published "Free Fighting: Protesting the Mixed Martial Arts Ban in New York" by Kelefa Sanneh, which offers some great coverage of our rally and the issue on NY MMA. This is an important piece as it goes great lengths towards educating the average New Yorker about our concerns. The New Yorker's average circulation increased 2.2 percent in 2011 to 1,047,260, and newsstand sales were up 2.8 perecent to 33,530. That's a lot of eyes!

Steven Crowder NY MMA Video

Overall, this is a pretty good video with some great commentary. It does miss some critical points from a local NY perspective, but it is not a bad piece overall. I do wish folks who do stories like these would reach out to us locals who are the ones who suffer most. As the video says, the UFC does not need NY. Rarely do I see any story look at the bigger picture of the sport of MMA as a whole.

What we need to do, because of the very UFC related issues discussed, is educate people that in fact, one UFC a year in NY is not where the impact will really be. And to ban a sport based on negative press regarding the UFC damages the other 99% of the NY MMA community that is not the UFC. Stories like this one is good, but it unintentionally send the message that there is no MMA in NY outside the UFC. This is not the message we want to send to non fans and legislators.
This, like most stories on this topic miss the bigger picture, the more critical viewpoint when it comes to educating New Yorkers who don't follow the sport. And, let's not forget that Zuffa also uses NY to attack the unions on behalf of the Casinos, which is equally damaging. It is a two way street.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Today Was a Good Day for NY MMA

When it rains it pours...in a good way...

We got some great coverage in the local NY media today with former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin's Op Ed in the NY Post. Benjamin spoke at our pro MMA rally last week as well. Everyone take a moment to read "Let Women Join the Fight". He reminds New Yorkers that MMA is not simply a man's endeavor, citing the many influences women have in and on the sport.

Also published today in The New Yorker was "Free Fighting: Protesting the Mixed Martial Arts Ban in New York" by Kelefa Sanneh. This piece covers our rally from last week as well. This is an important piece as it goes great lengths towards educating the average New Yorker about our concerns.

On the legislative front, the NYS Senate released its proposed 2012-2013 budget with includes the "regulating the sport of mixed martial arts and allowing such bouts to be held within the state" in the New Jobs New York plan.

Finally, all NY MMA supporters can breathe a sigh of relief today as our most vocal opponent, Assemblyman Bob Reilly, has officially announced that he will not run for re-election! While this is not a cure all for our NY MMA ills, it will be refreshing not to hear his misinformed arguments blasting all over the airwaves any longer.

Don't let the screen door hit you in the ass on the way out Bob.

Michael Benjamin NY Post Op-Ed: "Let Women Join the Fight"

Former NYS Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who spoke at our pro MMA rally last week, has published a fantastic Op-Ed in today's NY Post. Everyone take a moment to read it! He reminds New Yorkers that MMA is not simply a man's endeavor, citing the many influences women have in and on the sport.

Let Women Join the Fight, by Michael Benjamin

The role of women in MMA was catapulted into the debate for lifting the NY ban on the sport early this year when the National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence disingenuously lobbied our legislators in favor of keeping the ban in place.

You can read the NCDSV letter and my rebuttal here: Rebuttal: The NCDSV has it all wrong

For some other perspectives from or about women and MMA, check these past posts:
- New York needs Women Fighters for MMA legalization
- Fighter/instructor Caroline Portugal weighs in on NCDSV anti-MMA memo
- Beth Hurrle of Gal's Guide to MMA: rebuttal to NCDSV
- Gina Carano on New York Mixed Martial Arts

Wyoming Becomes the Next State to Regulate MMA

MMA Junkie is reporting today that Wyoming has signed into law regulation on MMA. Apparently Montana has also moved back into the unregulated category. So we gained one and lost one remaining at 45 stated where MMA is regulated. Not sure how that happened.

So, we are still at 45 states with regulation; 1 with no athletic commission to offer regulation (Alaska); and 4 where MMA in unregulated (New York, Connecticut, Vermont and Montana), and in our case illegal. Legislation to regulate MMA is underway in Connecticut, as well as New York.

Wyoming becomes state No. 45 to regulate MMA (Updated)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Days after pro MMA rally, Cuomo dismissive of MMA issue

Just days after our pro MMA rally at his office hosted by the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in NY, Governor Cuomo remains dismissive of the NY MMA ban.

Politicker.com, 3/8/2012:
Governor Cuomo Wants To Legalize Mixed Martial Arts (In State Capitol Press Conferences)
“I don’t think there should be a feeling of my position one way or the other. We haven’t really reviewed it Ken and we don’t have a position,” Governor Cuomo said. “I understand the proponents argue it would be an economic development miracle and we need economic development, and so I understand the potential appeal, but I have not gone through it specifically.”

New York needs Women Fighters for MMA legalization

By Peter Lampasona of TheFightNerd.com
(originally posted at bullshido.net)

So, yesterday I went to a rally in front of New York State Governor Cuomo's Manhattan office that was organized largely by [The Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY]. There I had a little chat with former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin where he said that women in MMA were going to be needed to speak out in order to get this thing done.

The full article is over here at The Fight Nerd.

The short version is that last year everyone was pretty confident going in because the support for MMA in the two houses of the New York State legislature was considerably more than what was necessary to see the ban finally lifted. Then, a committee chair by the name of Herman Farrell proved that one guy, in the right position, can derail an entire legislative landslide victory.

Committee chairs control what actually gets on the agenda to make it to a vote. So, even if a committee would pass a bill 17-1, if that one person is the chair it will never get that far.

This year, a chairwoman by the name of Margaret Markey is putting the breaks on the bill for MMA in the Assembly even though it's close to passing already in the Senate. Markey's office has been very careful not to actually make any statements as to her opinion on the subject, probably thinking the best thing to do is make it quietly go away.

Markey also has made her career campaigning on legislative issues that effect women. So, it is the considered opinion of the former assemblyman that this women's history month, female athletes in MMA or making their living from teaching combat sports need to contact Markey and make it a women's issue if the log jam is to be broken up.

So, if there's anyone out there who wants to see a ban on MMA lifted in New York either because you are a citizen of the state or just in solidarity with those who have put their boots on the ground for this one, please spread the word. Women athletes need to contact Markey's office and tell her how important the sport is to them and how it has positively effected their lives.

The Assemblywoman's contact information can be found on the bottom of this page. http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=030

For some other perspectives from or about women and MMA, check these past posts:
  • Rebuttal: The NCDSV has it all wrong 

  • Fighter/instructor Caroline Portugal weighs in on NCDSV anti-MMA memo

  • Beth Hurrle of Gal's Guide to MMA: rebuttal to NCDSV

  • Gina Carano on New York Mixed Martial Arts
  • Friday, March 2, 2012

    The Continuing Saga - New York's Latest Response to Zuffa et al's Federal Suit

    The battle for legal live Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in New York takes another step forward today as Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman files the state's latest response...

    On 11/15/2011 multiple plaintiffs filed a Federal lawsuit to lift the ban on live MMA in New York. The complaint cited multiple constitutional violations and was spearheaded by Zuffa, LLC (owners of the UFC).

    Then on 2/1/2012, New York responded with a motion to dismiss and uphold the MMA ban. In a nutshell, New York argued that the suit should be dismissed and the law should not be judged on the MMA landscape today, but only the circumstances under which it was created 15 years ago. If New Yorkers want legal MMA let the legislature in Albany take care of it, not the courts.

    On 2/17/2012 Zuffa et al responded once again. The main point of the response filed was to demonstrate how changes in the sport since 1997 make the live MMA ban irrational today. The response attempted to demonstrate that these changes are in fact relevant to the case and that the complaint should not be dismissed.

    Today, New York made its next move in this legal chess game. Read the entire response here.

    New York is essentially said today: "Who cares if times have changed? The law is the law and changes in current MMA climate don't matter. MMA can still result in serious injury despite changes in medical requirements." Attorney General Schneiderman then jumps into a time machine suggesting that other organizations such as "Extreme Fighting" (an organization defunct since 1997) may not have evolved their safety standards as the UFC has over the past years.

    Is he serious? I guess Mr. Schneiderman did not care enough to do his research. Nor did he grasp the concept and function of UNIFIED RULES. I do hope he finds an "Extreme Fighting" event, I would love to go see one. I never had the chance 15 years ago. Ironically, it was "Extreme Fighting" that enacted mandatory weight classes and gloves before the UFC.

    Schneiderman again reminds us that amateur MMA is "neither regulated, nor banned in New York," which is the diamond in the rough of this entire affair. Who will be the first to host an amateur MMA event in New York now that we know it is legal?

    Schneiderman's response goes on to point out what many of us in New York have known for some time: That there is a path for live MMA in within the current law, just as there is for professional Muay Thai. For those not in the know, the 1997 law allows for "martial art" events to be sanctioned by one of an ever shrinking list of approved organizational bodies (shrinking because many of them have gone defunct since 1997 and there is no process to include new organizations like UFC, M-1, or Bellator to the list because it requires statutory change).

    Apparently, Schneiderman is suggesting that if one of these few remaining organizational bodies will oversee an MMA event, as in the case with professional Muay Thai, there could be MMA in New York. Now isn't that oxymoronic? New York won't legalize it as a combat sport, but will advise us how it could be done as a "martial art." Maybe it's just moronic. Just legalize it already. I also find this line of thinking ironic as this "reasonable intent in 1997 to allow for future flexibility," as Schneiderman calls it, has certainly not been evident in New York with regard to this issue.

    I think Schneiderman mailed this one in.

    Stephen Koepfer
    Founder, Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY.