Ultimate Fighting Championship Tuesday announced that the
promotion, along with a group of plaintiffs from the mixed martial
arts community, has filed a lawsuit in New York in an attempt to
overturn the state’s ban on MMA.
official release from the Las Vegas-based organization, the
lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a New York state law
banning the sport. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York, alleges that the MMA ban infringes
on the rights of fighters who want equal opportunity to showcase
their abilities in the Empire State, as well as on the rights of
fans and MMA supporters in New York.
“It is unfortunate that we were forced to take the step of filing a
lawsuit to overturn this senseless law, but the ban on live,
professional MMA infringes on the rights of countless New Yorkers,”
stated Barry Friedman, a constitutional law professor at New York
University School of Law and co-counsel with Morrison &
Foerster, LLP, for the plaintiffs. “Despite sincere legislative
efforts, the ban remains in place based on a flawed assessment of
the sport’s supposedly ‘violent message.’ This rationale is a
patent violation of the First Amendment.”
For years, the UFC has pushed to legalize MMA in New York, but
state officials have yet to regulate the sport. The proposed bill
died in the State Assembly once again this year, though it appeared
to gain momentum in 2011, passing through the state’s Tourism,
Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee and the Codes
Committee before stalling in Ways and Means.
When the bill failed to be placed on the Ways and Means committee’s
agenda in June, it prevented members of the committee from voting
on the proposal. Without the approval of the committee, the bill
could not be brought to the floor of the State Assembly for a full
vote, and the bill was set aside until next year.