Mixed Martial Arts Stalls Out in New York Once Again; UFC CEO Blames Union Interference


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NYC-Skyline-1The UFC’s attempt to legalize professional mixed martial arts in the state of New York has once again stalled in the state’s Assembly.

DailyNews.com reported late Tuesday night that the bill to legalize mixed martial arts, after passing overwhelming in the Senate, once again would not be brought to the floor for a vote by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver before the current legislative session ends.

The embattled speaker said more than 40 of 104 Assembly Dems opposed the measure, DailyNews.com noted.

The bill dying in the dust once again, led UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to issue the following statement, critical of the Culinary Union:

“While our disappointment cannot be overstated, our commitment to seeing New York legalize the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world is intact and undeterred. We continue to strongly believe that legalizing and regulating MMA in New York is the right thing for the state economically, the right thing for the millions of fans in New York and the right thing for the safety and benefit of the thousands of professional and amateur MMA athletes across the state.

“This year’s new, absurd, offensive, and completely erroneous charge used to justify the defeat of MMA legislation was that MMA is anti-woman and leads to domestic violence.  This is a deception fabricated by a Las Vegas union that is recklessly and callously trying to use an important societal issue to try and punish the UFC.  It isn’t honest and doesn’t work.

“It doesn’t work because our business is not harmed by not being in New York, as much as we would like to be there for our fans and for the arenas, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses which would see substantial economic benefits from the legalization of MMA in New York.

“And it isn’t honest because preventing live professional MMA events in New York does absolutely nothing to address the issues they claim to champion but really exploit.  MMA is now legal in all 49 other states.  Why has there not been a single protest in any of those states by any group or individual purporting to being fighting for women’s rights?  It is a false argument and those making that argument know it.

“The union is exploiting the issue to attack the UFC. Before UFC fired Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, the union and their supporters said in New York that they were ‘appalled’ by his behavior.  Yet, when he recently signed with another promoter there was not a peep by the union or its allies.

“This canard hurts women and hurts New York.  Continuing to ban MMA in New York does not hurt the UFC.  It only highlights the absurdity of the dishonest debate being waged by a small number of people in New York.  And New Yorkers pay the price.

“If New York’s leaders really do have a commitment to fanning a growing business climate in the state, they have a heck of a way of showing it.  We genuinely feel bad for the hotels, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses that support our effort and have championed this cause.  We also feel bad for New York’s arenas – large and small, particularly those upstate – that are struggling and have worked alongside us to pass the legislation.  I guess New York’s loss will continue to be New Jersey’s, Massachusetts’, Pennsylvania’s, and Toronto’s gain.

“We want to thank Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle – a true champion – and the more than 60 cosponsors who know passing this bill is the right thing to do. We will continue to work with them to educate the rest of their colleagues.

“This bill has now passed the Senate four years in a row – 47-15 this year – with overwhelming bipartisan majorities.  That’s right, strong majorities of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate support this bill and we know if we could only get a vote in the Assembly, we would see strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans supporting the bill there.

“Speaker Silver said legalizing MMA in New York is ‘inevitable’ and we agree.  It is discouraging that the Speaker does not yet believe that the bill has garnered the support of his conference, however, we appreciate that he has brought it to conference for the last two years and we are convinced that the third time will be the charm.  To paraphrase a famous movie line, we’ll be back.”

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