UFC announces April 2016 event in New York but it hinges on new lawsuit

September 28, 2015

The UFC has announced per press release that it is filing a new lawsuit in federal court in New York once again challenging the legislative ban on professional MMA in the state.  In a show of confidence, it has also scheduled an event on April 23, 2016 in New York’s Madison Square Garden assuming that the court will grant a preliminary injunction.

Via UFC press release:

“We believe fight fans have waited long enough to experience live UFC events in the state of New York and we are thrilled to announce our first event at Madison Square Garden,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “Professional MMA is legal around of the world and it is about time New York followed suit.”

In August, UFC filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over New York – stating that New York’s prohibition of regulated professional MMA events violates the First Amendment rights of athletes and fans throughout the state.

On September 28, UFC filed a new case in federal court, reiterating its claim that the New York law banning MMA events is unconstitutional.  This out-of-date law is too unclear for the public to understand, and has allowed regulators in New York to pick and choose arbitrarily what events they will permit.  Events featuring every combat sport except MMA seem to be allowed in New York, though this is not explicitly stated in the law.  The statute, and the state’s pattern of enforcing it, violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unconstitutionally vague laws.

Later this week, UFC will ask a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction against New York state officials enforcing its unconstitutional law. Without such an injunction, the event at Madison Square Garden will not be able to proceed.

The appeal by the UFC of its original lawsuit against New York filed in November 2011 is still ongoing with Paul Clement filing a brief on behalf of the UFC in early August and the state set to file its brief at the beginning of November.  The lawsuit filed by the UFC today looks to be different than the appeal currently pending.

A preliminary injunction seeks equitable relief (as opposed to monetary damages) from a court prior to a final determination of the merits.  A key distinction here for the UFC to get an event in New York by this spring.

In general the factors determining whether a court will grant a preliminary injunction are:

  1. The substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case;
  2. The party seeking the injunction faces a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted;
  3. The threat is immediate;
  4. The balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction;
  5. There is no other available remedy;
  6. The grant of an injunction would serve the public interest.

Notably, MMA has seen its share of preliminary injunctions recently.  Eddie Alvarez sought a preliminary injunction in a New Jersey state court case when he sought to be released from Bellator to fight in the UFC.  He lost.  However, as we now know, he made it to the UFC.

Bellator MMA filed a preliminary injunction in New Jersey attempting to prevent Rampage Jackson from fighting at UFC 186.  The trial court granted the injunction but the state appellate court overturned the injunction and allowed Jackson to fight at UFC 186.

Payout Perspective:

It’s a risky gamble by the UFC.  Before the event can even happen in April, the court must grant a preliminary injunction to allow the company to hold it.  Thus, the UFC could be out a lot of money.  But that’s the strategy.  Planning the event in April will shows there’s a “threat of irreparable damage,” it is “immediate” and “would serve the public interest.”  Thus, three of the requisite 6 factors (possibly more) to grant a preliminary injunction would be satisfied.  The legal strategy seems to hang on the opinion which dismissed the original lawsuit as Judge Kimba Wood seemed to entertain the argument that the statute banning professional MMA was vague but since no event actually occurred in the state, there was no harm.  Judge Wood stated that Zuffa could not establish “injury in fact.”  However, in what probably precipitated this new effort, Judge Wood indicated that it might have a claim based on events occurring after the filing of the November 2011 lawsuit.  But, Judge Wood stated that a re-filing likely would be better if it was in state court.  According to the press release, the new lawsuit is in federal court.

We have not seen the lawsuit as since it was filed today, it is still not up on Pacer.  MMA Payout will keep you posted

8 Responses to “UFC announces April 2016 event in New York but it hinges on new lawsuit”

  1. tops E on September 28th, 2015 4:06 PM

    Ufc is desperate….dw promised the world but cant even get NY….they need anything monumental and historic(in theyre minds) like ny but it was significant years ago with the momentum now its the decline stage hahahahaha

  2. d on September 29th, 2015 4:32 AM

    Tops is afraid of sunlight.

  3. The Greatest on September 29th, 2015 7:20 AM

    I recall D screaming like a maniac that the UFC would be in NYC in December and that the world would bow to him.

    Howd that work out?

  4. d on September 29th, 2015 3:07 PM

    I remember the G**est ranting like a quack that the UFC would do less than 4m buys this year.

    How’d that work out?

  5. The Greatest on October 1st, 2015 1:04 AM

    I never said anything like that.
    I did say May-Pac would do over 4mil which it did.

  6. d on October 1st, 2015 5:15 AM

    Yes you did. You make so many delusional claims, it is hard for you to remember them all you quack.

  7. Papa Troll on October 1st, 2015 10:05 AM

    Delusional claims?
    Hey, you’re the one denying official statistics.

    Anyway, the UFC has just lost the second motion so the antitrust lawsuit against the UFC is now in full swing.

    Did I just hear a toilet flush?

  8. d on October 1st, 2015 2:32 PM

    This is what mentally ill freaks do- they just lie as the go along. What’s funny in this case, is that YOU deny official statistics, while I’ve presented them. I don’t deny official stats. I’m guessing your definition of official is the word of Bob Arum though. Which in itself goes to show what kind of fruitcake you were.

    The toilet flush is where PBC’s hope has gone.

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