1.13.2009

Insider Commentary on the New York MMA Situation


As some of you may or may not know, a fight has been brewing in New York for some time now. New York is one of the few states left in the U.S. that has not sanctioned MMA competitions. Sure, mma fighters can still train all they want, but there are no sanctioned events in that state; i.e. no UFC, no XFC, no ICF.

Over the last few years, the UFC, in its push to take over the world, has put a lot of money into backing legislation in various states seeking to sanction professional MMA matches. New York is one of the states at the top of that list, for obvious reasons. For those of you that like watching MMA, imagine a UFC Pay-Per-View happening at Madison Square Garden - that would undoubtedly be an amazing, record-breaking event. But, until legislation passes, that won't happen.

An MMA website I frequent just interviewed a New York Assemblyman on the committee that's overseeing the legislation. Check after the jump for an excerpt from the interview as well as a link to the full text.

MMAWeekly.com has posted an interview with New York Assemblyman Bob Reilly, one of those who opposes MMA legislation in New York. The New York State Assembly’s Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee could vote on the bill in question as early as next week.

From MMAWeekly.com:

MMAWeekly.com: Can you tell me about your feelings on the current bill and about mixed martial arts in general?

Reilly: My feeling about the bill is that it’s a flawed piece of legislation. And my feeling about mixed martial arts is that there are many problems with it. It really is a glorification of brutality and violence. Many people believe that violence in the media, or any portrayal of violence, or violence itself as I think happens in mixed martial arts, in fact, makes people immune to violence and in fact promotes violence.

In New York State, we pass a lot of laws to stop violence, especially among young people in schools, but domestic violence (as well). I think that this basically is a glorification of violence, but it certainly promotes violence. In itself, I think it’s a very brutal sport that creates, obviously, physical harm to the participants, and I don’t think there’s any other sport who’s purpose is to harm your opponent. But we know that in mixed martial arts, that, in fact, is one of the purposes.

I think economically, it’s a very poor thing for New York State, that just the economics of it would not be beneficial to our state. It just draws money out of the state. I compare it to gambling and what happens in gambling. If you take Atlantic City for example, you have casinos that are going broke, surrounded by slums. If you look at Las Vegas, basically, the same thing is happening, where 20 months in a row gambling revenue has decreased, and Las Vegas and the growth there has created many slum areas in Las Vegas.

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While well-spoken throughout the interview, I think Reilly only truly serves to reveal himself as one of those people many of our readers are all-too-familiar with - the uninformed.

He does bring up some interesting points, namely that some of the financial projections could be misleading in terms of the amount of money that is speculated that would actually go to New York. However, I think as many of you will realize from the brief excerpt I posted, he really doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to MMA.

I do not believe that MMA promotes violence. I think it's the opposite -- that MMA actually works to oppose violence. I know I'm likely preaching to the choir here, but in my opinion, MMA is about promoting excellence in athletics through informed combat in a controlled environment. Sure, there are guys that do things that don't promote this ideal (anybody heard of Junie Browning's antics on TUF?), but there are plenty of fighters out there, day in and day out, that are true ambassadors for the sport (think Rich Franklin), that represent the actual reality of MMA -- guys who are well-spoken, thoughtful, and yeah tough and intense competitors.

I also think it was kind of a low blow to use the Kimbo vs. James Thompson fight in the way he did, to try and point out a colleague's misunderstanding of the rules. Not only is it obvious he had no real idea how the fight went down, but he's talking about a fight that happened in a now-defunct promotion. Maybe it would be more appropriate if EliteXC were leading the charge for the legislation, but it's not EliteXC, it's the UFC -- the world's leading MMA promotion.

(By the way, I still have my doubts about the doctor that cleared Thompson to fight. Even if Thompson had been cleared by the doctor at a UFC event, I don't think the UFC brass would have let him fight in that condition.)

I don't know what it would take to change Reilly's mind, and frankly, I don't know that anything could. But it's uninformed people like Reilly that hold the sport back for all of us, and hold their constituents back from maybe making some good money from the business the promotions would bring in, and definitely enjoying a good show.

-PreView

(For the full interview, check out MMAWeekly.)

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