This week, the ABC released a damning letter regarding New York's ban on professional Mixed Martial Arts as well as the legal and unregulated nature of amateur MMA in the state (see below). The letter, addressed to Governor Cuomo (who again failed to put MMA in his 2013 budget), Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Secretary of State Cesar Perales, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, rightfully points out the serious safety concerns present in New York and the contradictory nature of the state's official position on the topic.
New York has long pointed to safety as a chief motivator for upholding the ban, while simultaneously allowing potentially hazardous unregulated amateur events to go on. Some promoters in NY do attempt to emulate the safety standards that come with regulation, but such safeguards are not ubiquitous.
In spite of the "wild west" nature of NY MMA, on February 16-17, our coalition will host an ABC approved MMA Judge and Referee course in Levittown, NY. In attendance will be ABC approved trainer & veteran referee Rob Hinds, Bellator MMA Color Commentator Sean Wheelock, Mohegan Tribe Athletic Commissioner Michael Mazzulli, and New York State Athletic Commissioner Melvina Lathan, who has long supported lifting the ban on MMA. Other VIPs are planned.
Our hope is to offer New Yorkers an opportunity to see the extent of training and safety measures that are involved behind the scenes in the sport. While this course is required by all ABC approved MMA officials, we hope that journalists, politicians, and fans will attend this training; even if they never plan on officiating an MMA event.
For more perspective on the ABC's letter, check these stories:
ABC Blasts New York State For Allowing Unregulated MMA. By Jim Genia, Fightling
ABC Issues Letter to Governor Cuomo, Other New York Politicians Blasting MMA Ban. By Brent Brookhouse, Bloody Elbow