March 6, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that the California State Athletic Commission has followed the Nevada State Athletic Commission in restricting the use of testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT). At this time, it has instituted a complete ban on TRT.
Andy Foster, the California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer issued the following statement on California’s banning TRT.
The California State Athletic Commission fully supports the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to eliminate Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) in boxing and mixed martial arts. California is a strong supporter of anti-doping efforts. As part of California’s anti-doping efforts, the Commission recently began the rulemaking process to require meeting World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards as the only way to obtain a TUE for TRT. This standard is so high that it is an effective ban except under the most extreme circumstances. Until the rulemaking process is complete and the regulations are fully adopted, the Commission has a total ban on TRT. California remains committed to protecting the health and safety of athletes and having strict anti-doping standards is one of the ways this is accomplished.
The move by California to negate therapeutic-use exemptions (TUE) for TRT is a sign that the dominos may seemingly fall when it comes to the use of TRT. While TUEs for TRTs may still be obtained, the standards for receiving the exemption are so that most athletes currently using TRT would not meet WADA standards. Certainly, the ESPN “Outside the Lines” story on TRT helped sway public opinion of the use in MMA. We will see how many other commissions follow suit.
February 28, 2014
Earlier in the day, the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned therapeutic use exemptions for testosterone treatment therapy (TRT), just a few hours after that announcement was made, UFC teased a big announcement would be aired on FOX Sports Live tonight.
Fox Sports Live reported that Vitor Belfort would not be applying for a Nevada license for UFC 173, which is scheduled to take place on May 24th, due to the NSAC ruling to ban TRT. His replacement was announced to be Lyoto Machida after his recent win against Gegard Mousasi, which means the new UFC 173 headliner will be Weidman vs Machida.
Belfort claimed that he would now make the efforts to get off of TRT and continue to fight in the UFC without the testosterone therapy since other athletic commissions in the US would most likely follow the NSAC’s ruling.
Today’s NSAC ruling on banning TRT will have a ripple effect on MMA for years to come. We got some of that today already, as Belfort’s announcement today to pull out of his fight three months in advance will cement his status as the face of the TRT era in Mixed Martial Arts and in the UFC. The UFC is already in a tough spot to find headliners this year due to injuries and the impromptu departures of Georges St. Pierre (infinite leave) and Anderson Silva (injury), two of their biggest stars.
The buzz for a Weidman vs Machida main event in Las Vegas will not have the same feel as previous major events during the Summer time. This news puts even more pressure on Ronda Rousey to keep things going in 2014 as a number of UFC champions will continue to be sidelined from injuries suffered last year. As far as PPV numbers go so far in 2014, UFC 169 was estimated by Dave Meltzer to be in the low 200,000′s while UFC 170: Rousey vs McMann figures to do somewhere on the lower to mid end of 300,000 buys. Factoring in today’s news of Belfort pulling out of UFC 173, it looks like it will be a tough first half of the year for UFC PPV sales.
February 27, 2014
Earlier today, the Nevada State Athletic Commission motioned to ban the practice of issuing therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for the often questioned testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in the state, which would impact many notable fighters in the UFC.
The UFC supported the decision and issued the following statement:
“The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). We believe our athletes should compete based on their natural abilities and on an even playing field. We also intend to honor this ruling in international markets where, due to a lack of governing bodies, the UFC oversees regulatory efforts for our live events. We encourage all athletic commissions to adopt this ruling.”
Earlier in the week, MMA and athletic commissions came under fire after ESPN issued an eye-opening report of the number of TRT users in MMA, most notably, UFC fighter Vitor Belfort. Belfort is currently scheduled to challenge the current middle-weight champion, Chris Weidman, at UFC 173 in May. What’s important about that event is that it is currently scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, where TRT is now not allowed.
Belfort is not alone in requesting and being granted TRT exceptions in Nevada. Other notable UFC fighters that have receiced TUEs for TRT include Dan Henderson (who fights in Brazil in less than a month and was planning on receiving a TRT exception), Shane Roller, Todd Duffee, Chael Sonnen (fights in Brazil in the Summer), Frank Mir and Forrest Griffin.
It was a good day today to establish some credibility in MMA and the athletic commissions regarding performance enhancing drugs and cheaters in the sport. The ban of TRT exceptions was a move that was long-awaited by many fans and that had become a heated debate due to prominent UFC fighters fighting outside of the USA who were previously revealed as TRT users. The notion of a TUE for TRT has always been labeled as “legal cheating” by everyone in the sport, but the UFC never banned the treatment from competition due to being regulated by NSAC’s who allowed it.
This is a big first step, though definitely not the last. Obviously more needs to be done on this front, including enhancing the advanced testing and the out of competition testing performed by certain commissions. The issue here becomes getting enough funding to support such plans. Hopefully in the near future, a solution can be found to solve most of MMA’s problems, but at least for now, we have removed what had become a hot trend for fighters to “legally cheat”. It will be interesting to see if a fighter will challenge such a bold ruling in court, but at least for now we can breathe a little easier on what appeared to be a TRT epidemic in MMA.
January 13, 2014
Keith Kizer is stepping down as the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission according to The USA Today. Kizer resigned Friday night with his last day being January 27th.
Kizer will return to state attorney general’s office where he was prior to taking the top job at the NSAC. The article paints a positive administration for Kizer citing improvement in the health and safety of fighters in boxing and MMA in the state.
However, Kizer has been criticized for poor judging. The article Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao fight as one where most in attendance believed Pacquiao was the decisive victor yet Bradley won the decision. Recently, Dana White went on a tirade in the post-fight press conference for UFC167 when GSP was declared the winner in a fight many believed Johny Hendricks dominated.
With Kizer stepping down, we will see who will take over. The person taking charge will most likely have working relationships with the UFC, Top Rank and Golden Boy. The issues of drug testing and judging will be the two key things that Kizer’s replacement must address when taking over.
November 21, 2013
Newsday reports on a new study provided by the UFC on Thursday which reveals that the legalization of MMA in New York State would result in a $68 million economic impact within the state.
The new findings from a study commissioned by the UFC reveal that the state’s potential economic benefit is 3 times the amount than that of a similar study in 2011. In that study, it concluded an economic impact of $23 million. The new study’s economic impact includes an anticipated 5 UFC events in the state and factors in events from Bellator, World Series of Fighting and Ring of Combat. In addition, the study indicates that “statewide expansion of UFC Gyms would generate an additional $67 million in spending per year by 2017.” This would boost the economic impact to $135 million.
Specifically, the study reveals that two UFC events in New York city would generate $16 million in economic activity. The study also estimates $12.2 million in ticket sales per event which would be a record in the U.S. Three UFC events per year in cities such as Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany would produce $18 million in those areas.
(H/t: Adam Martin)
Will persistence ever pay off for the UFC in New York? The latest study, which the UFC paid for, indicates that the events would give the state an economic influx from its events as well as business for the hospitality industry. What has changed since the 2011 study is that the UFC is holding more live events and factors this into the new study. Now an anchor on Fox Sports 1, it has the opportunity to hold a couple big events in New York City and three Fight Nights in upstate New York. Also, there are other companies out there that would likely take advantage of the legalization of MMA in New York (i.e. Bellator, WSOF). Will this new study persuade any New York legislator that cares to listen?
July 22, 2013
ESPN UK reports that the French Sports Ministry will continue its ban on mixed martial arts. Despite lobbying efforts by Zuffa which had identified the country as a “massive opportunity” the country has decided to maintain its ban.
Showing that lobbying efforts have not shaped or change perceptions of MMA, the president of the Women’s Committee for Federation Francaise du Sport d’Enterprise stated, “I was appalled to find out how UFC was lobbying in France, especially when [told] how UFC has tolerated derogatory statements and attitudes against women. We cannot allow such an organisation to destroy all the work we have done to promote equality through French sports.”
The French ban on MMA represents two things. First, it shows that MMA continues to hold a negative perception by many not informed about the sport. Secondly, Zuffa lobbying has been ineffective in its attempts to persuade the “influencers” or other governmental groups to legalize MMA. Although many in North America may not be concerned with the French ban, it does affect its plan for the globalization of the UFC brand. It also is a sign that it must either rethink its lobbying strategy.
June 19, 2013
The New York State Assembly will not vote on a bill to legalize professional MMA in the state. With the latest loss, Zuffa will have to wait another year to lobby Albany once again.
Newsday reports that after a meeting with the Democratic conference on Tuesday night, it was decided not to be put to a vote. Although the MMA bill had 64 sponsors attached to it, a groundswell of opposition probably led to another year without a vote. However, 35 Democrats voiced opposition to the bill which was due in part to a sexual discrimination claim which was not handled properly by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. MMA Fighting reports Silver stating that over 40 Democrats opposed the bill. A simple majority of the 150 members of the Assembly was needed for passage. While there are 104 Democratic seats in the Assembly, the block of opposition did in the MMA bill this year.
Of course, Zuffa blames the Culinary Union of Las Vegas for the failure of the bill yet again.
Whether it was the lobbying power of the Culinary Union or the sexual scandal which denied Zuffa another shot at New York, its becoming clear that Zuffa must reassess its strategy if it would ever have an event in New York. If you were wondering about Zuffa’s lawsuit against the state, the Court has yet to rule on New York’s Motion to Dismiss Zuffa’s First Amended Complaint. Even if the Court denies the Motion, any legal battle would continue on through 2013 and thus seeking resolution through the courtroom will not happen this year.
June 18, 2013
The UFC is attempting to dodge a legal nightmare as there is a possibility of having the debut card on the new Fox Sports 1 1 from being displaced from its Boston location. A state legal requirement that fighters must have a social security card may derail the August 17th event.
A state law requiring all fighters licensed in Massachusetts must have a social security number according to The Boston Herald which first reported the issue. It was a requirement of the Massachusetts Department of Safety since it began regulating MMA in 2010. Yet, it apparently was not enforced when the UFC held an event in Boston in 2010.
The UFC’s Marc Ratner told MMA Fighting that Massachusetts is the only state that requires a social security number of its fighters.
All concern for the event was seemingly put to bed as the UFC issued a press release promoting the show at the TD Center on Tuesday morning. But, another release posted Tuesday night stated that it expects a “positive outcome.”
The UFC will still need to clear some licensing issues as it must apply for social security numbers for fighters that are in need of visas to fight in the US. You must have a visa for 10 days before receiving a social security number. According to this document from Social Security, there are two ways to apply for a SS#. The first is to apply with your visa application in your home country. If you did not apply for a SS# on your visa application you must be in the United States 10 days before applying for a social security card.
According to the licensing requirements under the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission, section 6.01(9) states: “…all applicants for licensure shall provide their social security number on the application.”
This certainly could be a PR debacle if the UFC cannot get its fighters social security numbers. However, it looks as though the UFC is working toward getting the appropriate paperwork finished in order to obtain the social security numbers. In this instance, the fact it had held an event in Boston previously without any enforcement of the social security number requirement may negate some heat off of this issue. Yet, it had to be someone’s job to ensure that all non-citizens would be able to compete on the card. This would mean making sure that it was in compliance with state rules.
June 11, 2013
The New York Daily News reports that the bill to legalize MMA in New York will likely be passed over again for vote this year. The report indicates that at least 35 Assembly Democrats oppose the measure.
The opposition includes 18 women – a bone of contention occurred in recent days as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver came under criticism for his handling of sexual discrimination claims involving Brooklyn Democrat Vito Lopez.
What it boils down to is the need for 76 Assembly Democrats to support the MMA bill. With 35 expressing opposition, that leaves just 69 Assembly Democrats. If this holds, the bill will not go forward again.
One of the reasons for the lack of support is a classic opposition argument which the opposition stated in a letter explaining its position.
Via The New York Daily News:
…the 35 Assembly Dems blast MMA as “brutal and barbaric” as well as anti-women and anti-gay.
The letter cites a shocking online parody “how-to” rape video made last year in which Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter “Rampage” Jackson pretended to try to rape a woman in a parking garage using chloroform and zip ties.
“The hateful incidences associated with MMA and the violent nature of the sport raise serious concerns about the adverse effect that legalizing professional MMA events in New York could have on the well-being of our citizens, especially our children,” the 35 Dems wrote in their letter.
Seems like we’ve been here before. The UFC does its usual grab and grin in Albany, everyone says this year is the year. And, eventually, the momentum fizzles by June. With Connecticut legalizing MMA, New York is the last notable
(sorry Montana and Alaska) state that has not legalized MMA.
UPDATE: To clarify as pointed out by Marc Ratner of the UFC, Montana and Alaska do not have athletic commissions. Thus, those states do not have regulating bodies to govern MMA events. So, Montana and Alaska could hold MMA events in its respective state.
What makes this disappointing is that the UFC has spent so much money in the effort to educate and lobby on behalf of MMA. Still, its the same reasons we heard before the UFC’s efforts.
June 5, 2013
MMA Junkie reports that the Connecticut state senate passed a bill legalizing mixed martial arts. In addition, Canadian legislators passed a bill that will now allow provinces to regulate and permit amateur and professional prizefighting including MMA.
Last month, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed the MMA bill and it made it through the senate without any issues. Professional MMA events will now be allowed in Connecticut making New York the only state that does not allow MMA in its state.
The Canadian law amended the Canadian Criminal Code which defined prizefighting. While MMA was illegal in Canada, provincial governments passed its own regulations allowing MMA in its province. The law, which was introduced last spring, appears to be more of a formality based on the overwhelming popularity of the sport in the country. The vote was 267 in favor of MMA with only 9 against.
47 states now have legislation allowing professional MMA. Alaska does not have an athletic commission and Montana’s athletic commission does not regulate MMA. New York stands alone as the only state that does not allow MMA. Moreover, it does not look like it will happen this year for New York.