MMA in New York: Impact on Amateur MMA

The MMA world erupted with celebration on March 22 as the New York State Assembly finally passed the hard fought bill to legalize Mixed Martial Arts in the region. Pending the anticipated signature of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, professional MMA is now legal across all 50 States in the USA. IMMAF President responds  Financial Disclosure forms revealed that UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC invested over $500,000 across seven years in its effort to lift the block on professional MMA competition. IMMAF President Kerrith Brown reflected on the welcomed change and praised Zuffa’s transparency in bringing change to the law. “It’s fantastic news for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC. The work they have dedicated to fighting for MMA’s acceptance in New York has been tremendous and with transparency that has been a key factor.” With New York City being among the world’s most recognizable and bustling cities, the IMMAF President looks forward to the showcase of MMA’s economic value that can finally be appreciated in the area. “Every U.S. State can now realize the impact that MMA has to bring. New York will experience the economic impact that each event brings and the move will generate a lot of business. With the current climate we’re in, anything that has a positive effective on local economy is a big bonus and New York shouldn’t be barred from experiencing those benefits. The city is now moving with the times.” Despite the long held ban, New York’s MMA scene has established itself as a hotbed of development. As the home state of UFC light-heavyweight title winner Jon Jones, New York has also produced several former UFC champions over the years such as Frankie Edgar, Chris Weidman and Matt Serra, in addition to being the home to various notable gyms. What’s next for Amateur MMA in New York. While professional MMA was previously deemed illegal, unregulated amateur contests were allowed to proceed in New York outside of the law with a dangerously relaxed focus on medical safety requirements. It is hoped that government regulation for the sport will now enable the amateur platform to surface with full sanctioning and approved safety standards, in reflection of what the professional scene can now expect. The New York State Athletic Commission will have 120 days to adapt guidelines and regulation for its role as the local sanctioning body for professional MMA and Kerrith Brown believes that the official recognition from New York politicians and sport regulators will further enhance the evolution of MMA’s grass roots scene in the USA. In this early stage it is unclear as to what Amateur MMA can expect from New York’s legalization of the sport, and just how it will be welcomed into the government sanctioning fold. The USA’s Member Federation to IMMAF, the USA Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UMMAF), are watching the developments in anticipation of the next step towards full regulation of Amateur MMA in the state. Following the bill’s approval IMMAF.org spoke with MMA referee and UMMAF Director of Operations, Ryan Brueggeman, who clarified the position of Amateur MMA in New York. “Obviously this is a huge step forward in the right direction. MMA has been in New York for quite some time anyway, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to not have regulation on it. It was very interesting to hear the comments in the Assembly that were in opposition to legalizing MMA. Everything from an increase in domestic violence, to drug use, etc. I think it’s an epidemic of the misconceptions that still surround this sport around the globe. UMMAF continues to keep a watchful eye on the amateur MMA landscape in NY. Once it becomes clearer and we know the path that the New York State Athletic Commission wants to take then we will of course abide by their wishes. Currently Amateur MMA in New York is legal but unregulated by law so many promoters have avoided sanctioning and chalked it up to unneeded expense. If there is an application process that the state will impose for sanctioning bodies to be licensed on the amateur side, then I can see UMMAF entering the state to begin pursuing promoters for credible sanctioning of their events. It’s possible New York will only accept one sanctioning body statewide as California does and that will be another process all together. “There are a lot of people responsible for the passage of this bill and UMMAF would like to recognize individuals such as Kevin MacDonald and Ed Kinner for their unwavering efforts to get this common sense legislation passed.”

Written by IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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