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Tuesday, 11/15/2011, 08:20 am

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UFC NEWS – UFC Files Lawsuit Against New York


The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and a group of plaintiffs including fighters, fans, trainers and others involved with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) announced today that they have filed a lawsuit against New York State officials challenging the constitutionality of the state law banning live professional MMA events and associated activities (the “Ban”). The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, challenges the Ban for violating numerous provisions of the United States Constitution, including the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges the Ban infringes upon the rights of the fighters who want to publicly exhibit their skills as professionals and express themselves before a live audience, the rights of fans who would like to experience live professional MMA events, and the rights of those who train, publicize or otherwise advance MMA in New York. Plaintiffs point to the following as evidence of the irrational, unconstitutional nature of the Ban:

• The Ban was originally imposed in 1997, at a time when MMA was unregulated and prohibited in many other states. Today, MMA is a highly-regulated, broadly popular sport, which experts and supporting safety data verify is as safe as or safer than many sports and activities that are legal in New York, including boxing, football and rodeo.

• MMA is widely available on television in New York, and many New Yorkers lawfully train and spar in MMA.

• Live professional MMA can take place in virtually every state except New York.

• The individual martial arts that comprise MMA, including kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, judo, boxing and wrestling, are legal and performed live regularly in New York – it is only their combination, performed live by professionals, that is banned in New York.

“MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. and one of the most popular in the world,” said Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman and CEO of Zuffa LLC, owner of the UFC. “When we acquired the UFC, we went to great lengths to invite regulation and adopt substantial safety measures. MMA is now as safe as or even safer than many other sports and activities sanctioned in New York like boxing, for example, because it allows fighters to honorably tap out and involves far fewer hits. All the disciplines that go into mixed martial arts are performed live in New York; it is only their combination that is illegal. Denying fighters the chance to exhibit their training and skills before a live audience and denying thousands of New Yorkers the ability to watch their favorite fighters perform live is not only an injustice to them, but to the local markets that would reap tremendous economic benefits from hosting competitions. We believe the ban should be eliminated, and look forward to fighting live in New York.”

“It is unfortunate that we were forced to take the step of filing a lawsuit to overturn this senseless law, but the ban on live professional MMA infringes on the rights of countless New Yorkers,” said Barry Friedman, a constitutional law professor at New York University School of Law and co-counsel with Morrison & Foerster LLP for the Plaintiffs. “Despite sincere legislative efforts, the ban remains in place based on a flawed assessment of the sport’s supposedly ’violent message.’ This rationale is a patent violation of the First Amendment. In live events, fighters showcase their talents, communicate their convictions, show respect for their opponents and the art and tradition of MMA, and convey the importance of discipline, training and hard work. They also entertain their fans. Not only does the law prohibit live events, but as it is written it purports to ban other speech including media broadcasts and coverage of professional MMA. It is ironic that New York — in many ways the home of free expression, the global media, and the art world — would deny someone his or her fundamental freedom of expression. The Ban is contrary to what New York is all about. There is no legal basis for this unconstitutional ban to persist.”

“Performing MMA live in front of a crowd is an unrivaled experience and allows me to speak to my fans,” said Plaintiff and UFC competitor Brian Stann. “I was attracted to MMA during my time in the Marine Corps, after I returned from my first deployment to Iraq in 2005 and was looking for a path that allowed me to stay motivated, and inspire others, particularly fellow veterans. MMA is a brotherhood that demands respect for your fellow fighters and rewards mental discipline and skill. It has given countless veterans a way to rehabilitate and connect with other military veterans and I am grateful every day for the ability to compete and inspire my fans.”


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15 Comments to UFC NEWS – UFC Files Lawsuit Against New York

  1. Bigfan says:

    Awesome, glad to see they are working hard on MMA in NY. I heard there was roots in the culinary union that was trying to prevent legalizing MMA due to personal issues with the Fertitta’s. Maybe that was rumor, either way, UFC at Madison Square Garden would be epic.

  2. Xaninho says:

    Can the UFC do that over here in the Netherlands too?

    • Deamon says:

      @Xaninho I wished .. They Do that In teh bijlmer Arena.. but i dont think teh following is a big as Germany and The UK unfortunalty only peopel that really know about fighting are into this .. They hardly get The K1’s full in big venues..I hope they come up And The UFC Blesses Us In Holland>Me and MY wife Are SOOOOO in there!! Je weet zelf!!

      • Calabama says:

        Yea I’m living in Germany and I’m originally from Alabama, the following here is nothing like the states… it’s a bummer but you also can’t blame them because there is no real coverage here and with the time difference it’s hard… I’ll give it a few years… And it didn’t help that FOX1 wasn’t aired here either to my knowledge…

    • Action says:

      & Melbourne Australia too!!

  3. Glynn says:

    My first impression was, “That’s kind a dick move on UFC’s part.” I mean, they’re kind of attacking New York State without having really been provoked. Ultimately, though, they’re just attacking an outdated law, I guess, so it’s okay really. They’re not really attacking one particular person, just a law.

    • Kodyak113 says:

      Its an old law yes. BUT it was just voted on again to repeal that law and they chose not to.
      Politicians are voted in to speak for the people, the people want MMA, and they’re not listening.

  4. Kodyak113 says:

    If anyone has a chance to win a lawsuit against a State it would be two casino owners and Dana White.

    What do i have to sign?
    Down for the cause!
    Cant stop MMA BABY!

  5. Brandon says:

    Its about time

  6. Spike says:

    This is totally crazy on behalf of New York State which i live in.The law was made when MMA was not sanctioned and Zuffa has gone to the extreme to to make this main stream.I believe as a fan and as a New Yorker that there is alot of benefits to reap having MMA in New York.Also i find it terrible that New York fighters like light heavywieght champ (who lives 45 mins from me) Jon “Bones” Jones doesnt get a chance to show case his talents in front of home town crowards.Bring the UFC to the mecca of sports which is Madison Square Gardens.

  7. worldwidemmanow says:

    YES!!! Break out the katana and draw some blood. NY is more complicated than perhaps Glynn realizes. it’s kinda like getting the right waste disposal contracts from the mob…. sometimes you can’t grease your way in… especially when the UFC / Dana and Co. want to do it right the first time = completely legal. otherwise, the wise guys would get paid for every promotion that happens in their territory.

  8. mmaninja says:

    Finally! The politicians in NY can no longer get away with scrutinizing MMA and misrepresenting what this beloved sport is all about. It is completely insane that corrupt state officials have been able to keep this charade up as long as they have and they need to be exploited for the criminals they are, trying to hold down a sport at their citizen’s and state image’s expense. Bravo Zuffa….time to evolve the thinking of many who are ignorant to the reality of modern MMA, because they have been given misinformation and slanted representation of the wonderful sport of MMA.

  9. Anon says:

    That’s what they should do to the athletic state commission.

  10. Jujitsu Player says:

    Great news. Bring the UFC to NYC!

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