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.
May 29, 2013
The NY Daily News reports a scandal within the New York Assembly may spell the doom for MMA legislation in the state this year. The crux of the latest obstacle is the handling of a sexual harassment issue by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Women’s groups are reportedly upset with Assembly Speaker Silver for his handling of sexual harassment complaints made against Brooklyn Democrat Vito Lopez. Lopez resigned from the Assembly after investigations accused him of inappropriate conduct with 8 female staffers.
The investigations revealed that Silver brokered secret settlements with two of the women instead of referring their complaints to an ethics committee per the Assembly rules. As a result of this misstep, it is believed that an MMA bill will be collateral damage.
A source told the Daily News that “it’s unlikely,” that legislation legalizing MMA would happen this year. This is due in part to the political fallout that may occur. Pushing to legalize MMA could further alienate female assembly members as well as bring a spotlight to Assembly Speaker’s Silver’s secret settlements.
Bad news for Zuffa as it appears that legislation will stall again in New York. There may be concern that with pushing a bill for MMA at this point, it would stir more fervent opposition than tacit support. While women’s groups may have opposed an MMA bill already, the cover up by Assembly Speaker Silver makes his support of such a bill more scrutinized. Moreover, its likely that one could see the Culinary Union step in and join forces with women’s groups to combat efforts for MMA legalization in the state. We should see within the next week or so what transpires with the MMA bill.
May 21, 2013
MMA Mania reports that the UFC has established a web site to address the Culinary Union’s consistent attacks against the organization. “The Truth About Culinary 226” aims to expose the Union’s issues on this web site owned and operated by Zuffa.
The web site reveals public waste allegedly caused by 226 and attempts to address the history between Culinary 226 and Zuffa.
Via “The Truth About Culinary 226”:
The Culinary Union has targeted Station Casinos because the company refuses to agree to a “card check” process whereby the Culinary Union may become the representative of its employees without being elected as such through a secret ballot election. Rather than simply following the secret ballot election process that U.S. federal law provides, the Culinary Union’s management has instead waged a dishonest campaign to pressure Station Casinos to capitulate to its demands. As part of that campaign, the Culinary Union has been engaging in harassment tactics that target all of the business interests of the Fertittas, including Station Casinos and the UFC.
Bad PR or Zuffa rightfully going on the offensive? The web site tells the Zuffa side of the story with the constant attacks made by the Culinary Union in light of the continued inability for MMA to become legalized in New York. Zuffa is up front of what it is doing as it states it owns the web site on the front page. I am not clear how the web site will sway public opinion but it cannot hurt its efforts for legalizing MMA in New York if it is truthful about its allegations.
May 8, 2013
The CT Post reports that the state House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in the state. The bill now goes to the state senate for approval.
The bill passed 117-26 after debate in the House. The state senate voted down a similar bill last year. But, supporters of the bill proclaim the economic benefits.
Via CT Post:
A 5 percent additional tax on MMA bouts could give the state $350,000 for a single fight night at the XL Center, Dargan said. The economic benefits for downtown Hartford on fight night was estimated at $750,000 for hotels, restaurants and bars.
A good step for Connecticut. Although its unlikely that the UFC would not make the state a part of its annual rotation, the local/regional MMA scene would benefit from the legalization. As always, the ancillary benefits of boosting the local businesses is a plus. If the bill passes, New York, Montana and Alaska (which does not have an athletic commission) would be the only states without MMA regulation.
March 27, 2013
MMA Fighting reports that Nick Diaz’s camp is threatening to file a complaint against the Quebec Athletic Commission for its weight allowance and post-fight drug test.
First, the Diaz camp contests the Montreal Athletic Commission’s custom of allowing a 0.9 allowance for weigh-ins for a championship match. While a 1 pound allowance is granted in non-championship fights, the UFC has a strict rule that fighters in championship matches must weigh at the division’s limit. Diaz’s camp states that the commission allows for up to a 0.9 allowance and still be considered the weight (i.e., rounding down). So, GSP could have weight 170.9 and it would still be considered 170.
If you recall, Nate Diaz had to cut .5 pounds for his UFC on Fox 6 Lightweight Championship match against Benson Henderson.
Also, Diaz contends that the commission did not properly supervise GSP’s post-fight drug test. Diaz’s camp indicates that these two irregularities should pave the way for a rematch with GSP.
There seems to be two issues here. The first is to determine whether the Quebec Athletic Commission properly followed the regulations with respect to determining weights. Also, whether the commission properly conducted the post-fight drug test.
The next issue is whether these issues should necessitate a rematch. This issue would interest fans the most. Would these problems have meant that the fight would have been different? Certainly if GSP used PEDs, there may be an argument. Of course, if that occurred, there would be a much bigger issue than just Diaz’s rematch. But would 0.9 lb matter in determining the result of UFC 158?
The video is interesting as the “Canadian loophole” (as someone off camera calls it) is explained to Diaz. We will see how far the Diaz camp takes the grievance and whether it will mean anything for GSP-Diaz II.