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.

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