16 for 16: No. 3 New York finally passes law to legalize professional MMA in the state
December 30, 2016
Thus, on September 1st the sport became legal and regulated by the state.
Assembly votes shown in this picture. Green is good.
— jim genia (@jim_genia) March 22, 2016
After much lobbying, time and effort, the UFC opened up with the first major card at Madison Square Garden on November 12th.
Notably, the UFC 205 Countdown show included a part dedicated to showing Sheldon Silver indicted on corruption charges. He is currently appealing his prison sentence. It was one final shot at the individual that Dana White blamed for not allowing a vote on the bill for years.
The UFC debut did not disappoint as it enjoyed the richest gates in company history.
Not long after the initial joy of legalizing the sport, boxing promoters began to complain about the hefty tax needed to insure fighters for events. A new insurance premium that would cover $1 million for each fighter on the card would be required for operation in New York.
In October, Promoter Lou DiBella canceled the remaining cards he was planning in the state due to the new requirement that has a $1 million minimum for each fighter in the event the fighter suffer a traumatic brain injury. The UFC paid approximately $1,675 per fighter and approximately $44,000 overall. It paid $40,200 for the Albany, New York show on December 9th. This does not include the standard $50K medical and $50K accidental death insurance policies.
Of course, one has to wonder whether or not boxing lobbied against the MMA bill due to the new insurance requirement. The new requirement does stem in part from a 2013 post-boxing incident in the state which left boxer Magomed Abdusalamov fighting for his life and a commission report found issues with the handling of the event.
New York set a tax of 8.5% on gross receipts in addition to other tax terms for MMA events. Thus, the state collected approximately $1.5 million in taxes from UFC 205 according to the reported gate of $17.7 million.
Despite the hefty tax paid by the UFC, it reported the best merchandise sales ever for an event.
Look for the UFC to hold big events in the New York to offset the insurance and taxes it needs to pay. Notwithstanding the cost, the final hurdle to legalize the sport in the state was a monumental hurdle the company overcame. One might consider it a factor in the sale of the company.
16 for 16
5. UFC 200
14. Bellator 149
15. CM Punk debuts