Freedom to Fight
As we reported last week, New York is one of the few states where the sport of mixed martial arts is still illegal. The Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA’s biggest league, has lobbied for years to get this changed so they could hold lucrative live events at venues like Madison Square Garden.
But so far they have had no luck with politics. So today Zuffa, the league’s parent, took a different tack. The UFC sued New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to overturn that state’s 1997 law banning Mixed Martial Arts on the grounds that the ban violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“This is mixed martial arts, emphasis on the arts,” said Barry Friedman, the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Constituional Law at NYU. “The reason these atheletes are suing is because they have been prevented from their self-expression on some of the biggest stages in the nation.”
Eric, a beefy Long Islander with legs like a running back’s and platinum blond hair that enhances his Jersey Shore tan, locked up with his opponent, John. It was the second fight of the night at the Underground Combat League, one of the busiest promotions putting on mixed martial arts fights in New York, where the sport is illegal.
A crowd of around 100 people were crowded into a well-lit basement gym in Manhattan (the organizers asked us not to disclose its name for legal reasons), pushed up against a chain-link cage watching the action. Wrestling mats covered the floor and heavy bags hung from the ceiling. A burly bouncer stood by the front door to make sure no one arrived uninvited.
The two fighters pressed each other against the chain-link cage, exchanging knee strikes to the abdomen. With a surge, Eric threw his opponent to the ground, mounted him, perched on his chest and began raining down blows.
New York is one of just six states in the nation that still has not legalized mixed martial arts.
But Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, held a press conference at Madison Square Garden today where he announced his determination to change that this year.
Over the last year the UFC has held Read More