June 25, 2015
A bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York has failed to reach an Assembly vote once again this year. Despite a concerted effort to attempt to push the bill through, which included revamping the bill to attempt to appease legislators, it appears that it will not make it to a vote on what is the last day of an extended legislative session in Albany.
Jim Genia relayed the bad news. Genia among other New York MMA supporters gave up to the minute details on the sausage making in Albany and relayed the news to MMA fans that hoped to see the UFC in Madison Square Garden this December.
This year seemed different in Albany due to the removal of Speaker Sheldon Silver and a more MMA-receptive speaker in Carl Heastie. But once again, the MMA bill was not brought before the Assembly for vote despite an extended session which many thought would produce one.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, the sponsor of the MMA bill, indicated that it needed 76 votes in the Democratic conference for a bill to come to the floor. Prior to the revamp of the MMA bill a couple weeks ago, they had 70.
MMA Payout will have more on this as more information comes out but this is a definite blow for MMA and the UFC. Many believed that this would be the year that MMA would become legal in the state. But, politics once again rears its ugly head. As for options, we must wait another year in Albany but the Zuffa lawsuit against New York continues. Its appeal of the dismissed lawsuit claiming the bill prohibiting MMA in the state is unconstitutional is in the Second Circuit and Zuffa’s briefing is due by August 4th.
June 24, 2015
Alexander Shlemenko was suspended three years and fined $10,000 by the California State Athletic Commission as it is the harshest penalty against an MMA fighter since it began regulating the sport. In addition, Shlemenko’s win against Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 133 has been overturned.
The commission voted unanimously by a 7-0 vote in favor of the penalty. Although Shlemenko’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, argued that there was a lack of a “B” sample and a possible violation for not splitting the urine sample. The commission did not agree with Jacobs’ arguments.
But the commission did not agree. The fact that Manhoef was knocked out by Shlemenko may have played a role in his penalty. Of course, Shlemenko’s tests were another reason. Per MMA Junkie, the tests revealed the steroid oxandrolone and oxandrolone metabolites as well as a testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 50-1 in Shlemenko’s post-fight urine test (the commission’s limit is 4-1).
It is not known if Shlemenko will appeal but if he does not, at 31 years old, it’s unlikely we’ll see him fight again.
UPDATED: According to Combat Sport Law’s Erik Magraken, Shlemenko will seek judicial review of the commission ruling. I would expect that this will happen more if commission’s seek to dole out these stiff penalties. Realistically, what does Shlemenko have to lose? His career is likely over if he accepts the punishment.
One would think that if Shlemenko has a compelling case, his attorney could still appeal the commission decision by seeking a judicial review in a California Superior Court. The heavy-handed penalty reflects a newfound position by athletic commissions in light of the UFC’s stance on PEDs. There is an argument that the penalty is unjust but the commission can point to the glaring test results and the T/E ratio to justify its suspension. Moreover, the TKO victory might have persuaded commissioners to allow the penalty as one commissioner put it that Shlemenko could have killed Manhoef. We shall see if this decision will be appealed.
June 22, 2015
It appears that there will finally be a vote in the New York State Assembly on a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York on Tuesday. The legislative session in Albany has extended its session and the MMA bill should be addressed before the legislators close out 2015.
According to veteran MMA Journalist Jim Genia, the Assembly should vote on the matter Tuesday as the legislature is off on Monday.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle indicated that he was hopeful that a vote would occur this week. It is believed that there are enough votes for the MMA bill to pass. The bill was revamped earlier this month to appease some with concerns over safety issues. The bill would regulate both amateur and professional MMA in the state.
We are getting closer and closer to the possibility of the UFC promoting fights in New York State. If the bill passes the Assembly, it would go to the governor for signature. Governor Andrew Cuomo could veto the bill although all indications would seem to point to the governor signing it. In its lobbying efforts earlier this session, the UFC’s Ronda Rousey personally visited Governor Cuomo to talk to him about the bill to legalize MMA in the state.
June 17, 2015
Newsday reports that an amended bill seeking to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York passed the Senate last night by a vote of 49-13 which is up from 47-14 when it passed last March. The final goal is for a vote in the Assembly before the legislative session ends in Albany this week.
While the session officially ends Wednesday, it is anticipated that the legislative session will be “extended a day or two.”
The bill still needs 76 votes in the Assembly in order pass and be sent to the governor for signature. Jim Genia (a recommended follow if interested on updates) indicated that prior to amendments to the bill, it had 70 votes.
It’s going down to the wire and we shall see if the amendments to the MMA bill mustered enough votes to pass the Assembly. If it does, the governor may veto the bill but indications seem to be that he would not. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
June 10, 2015
A revamped MMA Bill has been offered up by the bill’s sponsor Joseph Morelle in hopes of facilitating a vote in the New York State Assembly. It’s quite possible that its revisions may make it possible for a vote and passage before the legislative session ends June 17th.
The bill includes additional health and safety measures which could preclude smaller MMA promotions from holding events in New York. However, the provisions should not be a problem for Zuffa or Viacom-owned Bellator.
Among the amendments to this bill, it includes:
- Minimum insurance of at least $50K for all pro combat sports promoters. There is also a provision requiring a $1M insurance policy for competition injuries resulting in major brain injuries. The legislative language indicates that there must be “an identifiable, casual (sic) link” between the fighters’s participation and the injury.
- All combat sporting events (pro or amateur) will pay an 8.5% tax on gross gate receipts and a 3% tax on broadcasting rights sold including internet broadcasts.
- The bill indicates that the New York State Athletic Commission will have jurisdiction over amateur combat sports. This eliminates underground MMA in the state and it will sanction all amateur MMA.
- The Commission will have jurisdiction over all combat sports including professional wrestling, martial arts and kickboxing.
As we head down the stretch, we shall see if the MMA Bill will get the remaining votes it needs to pass and become law. If the bill is passed, MMA will be legal in the state of New York 180 days from when it becomes law. The bill appears to address some concerns of those that have its reservations about the violent nature of the sport. It does hurt small-time promoters that cannot provide the financial guarantees the new law will require. We will know in a week whether this bill will be put up to a vote and whether it passes.
For more background on the fight for MMA in New York, check out our interview with veteran MMA journalist Jim Genia.
June 9, 2015
MMA Payout presents The Interview, Episode 2, with veteran MMA Journalist Jim Genia discussing the status of the fight to legalize mixed martial arts in the state of New York.
Please note that this interview was done on Monday afternoon right before the news of a revamped MMA Bill was made public. With the New York State Assembly ending June 17th, we are going down to the wire for a vote to legalize MMA in the state.
June 5, 2015
In the waning days of the 2015 New York State Assembly, the bill seeking to legalize MMA in the state is being revamped in hopes of passage according to the Press & Sun Bulletin in Albany.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle expects to expand the MMA bill to include other legalized combative sports as well as safety regulations for all events. The proposed change would include a health insurance program funded through promoters that would cover medical bills for participants who suffer major injuries while competing in New York.
Amendments to the existing MMA bill might include a study to determine the impact of the sport in relation to brain injuries and new regulations for amateur fighting contests.
A spokesperson for the UFC appears to support the movement that is going on in the legislature at this point.
The legislative session ends June 17.
UPDATED: Below are proposed legislation from years passed which reflect changes that MMA supporters may seek. While we do not have the current changes, this is a glance of what we might see.
The fight for New York MMA continues and we are seeing lawmakers in support of the sport doing everything possible to get a vote on the bill – something that has not happened when Sheldon Silver served as Assembly Speaker. The concern for those fans of MMA in New York, is with the broadening of the bill to include other sports we will see advocates for boxing and other combat sports wanting to voice their views on the law. Also, if the bill were to include additional costs (i.e., health insurance, commissioning a study), how would that affect smaller promotions that may want to hold fights within the state. We shall see if a vote occurs by June 17th.
May 21, 2015
Silva’s attorney, Ross Goodman, was pleased with the court’s ruling that Silva’s punishment was overturned but no happy with its ruling that it had jurisdiction over Silva. With the court ruling, Monday, Silva would have to go back before the commission to determine his punishment for fleeing a drug test last year.
Silva argues that the commission had no right to drug test him since he was not licensed at the time. The commission counters that it has oversight over combat sports within the state and thus had the right to test Silva.
The appeal to the Supreme Court for the state of Nevada is a calculated risk but worth it. The district court ruled in Silva’s favor but he still must go before the commission to be punished. If Silva wins on appeal with a finding that the commission never had jurisdiction, his name is cleared. It would also spur an amendment to the laws in Nevada. Silva has a good chance with his appeal to the Supreme Court as the commission’s argument sought a very broad interpretation of the laws of the state. Reading the laws plainly, one could see Silva winning the appeal. We will see what happens.
May 15, 2015
On Friday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission passed new drug testing measures which include enhanced punishments for test violations. The NSAC hopes that other state regulators follow suit.
UPDATED: 4:07pm ET – MMA Junkie has a write-up on today’s hearing. One note is that the commission rulings are not mandatory and punishments will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
In addition to the increased penalties, it is now changing its rule that fighters that fail a post-fight drug test will now be credited with a loss instead of a no contest.
Per ESPN’s Brett Okammoto, a first offense would command more of a penalty regarding suspension and percentage of purse.
I believe I noted every amendment, but will confirm after meeting. This is the updated list of fines/suspensions. pic.twitter.com/4M3psalaH5
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 15, 2015
Notably, the first offense suspension for marijuana usage is more than the use of diuretics. Also, steroid use would command a 3 year ban and a fine of 50-70% of the purse.
The new penalties will go into effect on September 1st in the state. MMA Fighting’s Shaheen Al-Shatti indicated that the commission voted to shift diuretics and stimulants from the ‘in competition’ prohibited list to the ‘always prohibited’ list. Brett Okamoto also indicated that the commission will discuss whether the NSAC should continue to follow WADA’s testing and tolerance levels of cannabis
The NSAC’s moves on Friday is a step in the right direction with respect to addressing illegal drug use. It should help clean up the sport of MMA, at least in the state of Nevada. Certainly, the harsher penalties for marijuana use will be criticized as the perspective of the drug has changed over the years. We shall see how these new policy changes will influence other commissions to adopt the penalties issued by the NSAC.
May 1, 2015
MMA Junkie reports that an attorney for Jon Jones threatened to sue the Nevada State Athletic Commission for releasing results of Jones’ drug test which revealed his positive test for using cocaine.
Ross Goodman wrote on behalf of Jones claiming that the fighter’s privacy was invaded due to the release of the drug test results to the media. Per Junkie, Goodman wrote the commission on behalf of Jones stating that they were considering a civil lawsuit against the NSAC and its board members for invasion of privacy. The NSAC stated that the test for street drugs was an “administrative oversight.”
Junkie obtained the commission letter of February 13, 2015 in response to Goodman’s letter of January 29, 2015. Notably, the commission indicated that it did not disclose the December 4, 2014 Jon Jones test results to the media, but the UFC did. In the letter written by the Nevada State Attorney General (which represents the NSAC in these matters), it claimed to have broad authority over unarmed combatants within the state as well as permitting out of competition testing of any unarmed combat.
In its letter the commission indicated that it had adopted the WADA Prohibited List but not the WADA Code.
Notably, Goodman represents Wanderlei Silva in his lawsuit against the commission related to the NSAC’s fine and suspension after Silva allegedly evaded a drug test. He also represented Nick Diaz in a lawsuit against the commission in April 2012.
This information is probably not news as Jones was mum (Jones doesn’t comment at 7:27 in the FS1 exclusive on January 19th) when it came whether he would seek action against the commission. With Jones’ latest troubles, a lawsuit against the commission is likely the last thing on his mind. In general, to prove a civil claim for Invasion of Privacy, there must be an intrusion upon reasonable expectations to be left alone. Jones’ claim would likely fall under a claim of “Public Disclosure of Private Facts.” Here, legal action may be taken if an individual publicly reveals truthful information that is not of public concern and which a reasonable person would find offensive if made public. Clearly, the commission argues that 1) it did not disclose the drug test and 2) these are not private facts.
With all of the legal issues facing Jones, this one might be on the backburner until Jones’ criminal issues are clarified.