It looks like UFC is fighting hard to make its way into the New York arena.
In an exclusive report, the Daily News found that Zuffa LLC—which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Extreme Cagefighting—has spent $1.6 million on lobbying in New York State since 2007. Of that $1.6 million, $594,200 has been allotted to campaign contributions—and Governor Cuomo has benefited the most.
“No one has benefited more than Gov. Cuomo, who has received $180,600, or 30.4% of Zuffa’s total donations in New York since 2007,” the Daily News reported. After Gov. Cuomo, the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee has received a significant portion of the contributions—$110,000. The Republican Senate Campaign Committee has received $95,000, followed by the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, which has received $39,500. UFC must think that watching muscly cage fighters beat each other into bloody oblivion is a bipartisan desire.
For UFC, the quest for legalization has been a long battle. The sport was first banned by Governor George Pataki in 1997. Four times since then, the Senate has passed legislation to legalize ultimate fighting, but each time it’s been knocked out in the Assembly. In March, the Senate passed the legislation again; the jury’s still out on whether or not the bill will make it past the Assembly round, and then on to Gov. Cuomo.
Make of it what you will, but Gov. Cuomo doesn’t seem opposed to legalizing the sport.
“I don’t have a feeling towards the sport that says, ‘That sport should not happen in the state,’” Gov. Cuomo said to the AP. “My question is: Why should we do it? The obvious answer is that it could be an economic impact to the state, and you could generate economic activity. That could be persuasive, if it’s true.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also had inspiring words regarding the UFC vote.
“I think at some point there will probably be an approval in this state,” Speaker Silver said, according to MMAFighting.com, “I can’t tell you when.”
We won’t make any official calls yet, but who knows—maybe this is the year that all of Zuffa’s lobbying efforts will finally, er, pay off.