It’s the last bastion of unregulated, unwanted MMA. Despite MMA’s legal, regulated status in all the states that border New York, lobbyists and backwards-thinking politicians continue to win out in the battle to keep the sport of MMA out of their state.

It’s something that hits home on a personal level for me, and it’s a great example of how politics work in the United States. Everything is about securing re-election and how to make the best out of a situation in a way where it doesn’t affect the politician in question.

Time and time again I have argued in articles for the legalization of the sport in the state I love to visit, have family in and even resided in for a year of college. New York has always been a second home to me, and I’m sure it will continue to be just that.

Somehow, someway, amateur MMA has been able to go on in New York, albeit vastly unregulated by the government that has banned the sport on a professional level since 1997. It has become a very dangerous game to play for the fighters who do perform at the amateur level in New York, but who also compete in surrounding states. Without regulation, there is nobody to communicate with commissions from the surrounding states to ensure fighter safety. This leads to guys getting knocked out and then turning around in a week’s time to fight in Pennsylvania or in my home state of New Jersey. Not everybody cares about a fighter’s health and some fighters have the will to get knocked out and come back to perform the next weekend, even if it goes against their best interests.

It’s a dangerous situation that would make anybody uneasy. As New York so stubbornly fights against regulation, this problem will only serve to be exacerbated and create issues for the commissions in other states. Jim Genia penned an article for Dead Spin which I recommend you read. His report details some terrible things that have gone on in the unregulated amateur MMA scene in the state.

The safety standards and precautions the UFC takes are far ahead of those that are implemented by the promoters or independent overseeing bodies in the unregulated MMA world, where guys who have HIV and hepatitis C can go unchecked and bleed on a mat and risk the health of other fighters.

It isn’t crazy to say that by regulating, New York could infinitely increase the safety of fighters while also pumping a tremendous amount of money into their economy. Regional promotions like Ring of Combat and bigger promotions like the UFC and Bellator could do crazy numbers in the state. Two of the UFC’s current champions and possibly two of its biggest potential draws, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and middleweight champion Chris Weidman, hail from New York.

It isn’t just a New York problem at this point. It has become an area-wide problem. It also isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue, it’s a battle of right vs. wrong. And on the wrong side of this battle stand the politicians who are more concerned with pleasing certain lobbies, including the Nevada-based Culinary Union, and keeping their seats in the government.

New York needs to step up here and regulate the sport. It isn’t the flavor of the day to ban what was once considered “human cockfighting.” It isn’t smart to ban a sport that since 1997 has undergone vast changes to make it less barbaric and more legitimate. And, at the very least, it makes no sense to permit amateur MMA in the state without putting safeguards in place to protect the participants.

But this is government we’re talking about. The intelligent option doesn’t always win out. (In my experience, it almost never wins out.) It’s like that little voice in your head telling you not to do something stupid, but you do it anyway.

You would think the state that allows so many immigrants to pass through its gates would be understanding of liberty and how the government should work. It should stand as an example to the rest of the world of how the country works on both political and cultural levels. Yet, instead of having a government by the people, for the people, New York has a government by the people for the lobbyists.

The Culinary Union has fought hard against the UFC’s efforts to bring the sport to New York. The Culinary Union has opposed the UFC by citing the inappropriate comments of fighters and the brutality of the sport. However, the same union doesn’t oppose other sports like the NFL or boxing, where the same stuff goes on. I could sit here and list all the inappropriate things that have been said and done in those sports, but it would be a long list.

However, at the root of the issue, the union cares little about those comments or the sport itself. Peek behind the curtain, and what you’ll find is an organization that is feuding with the Fertittas over issues related to the unionizing of the Station Casinos. In its effort to take the war from Nevada to New York, it has managed to do little more than stifle another state’s economy and also risk the health and lives of numerous athletes. Their efforts have led to this.

New York’s refusal to legalize the sport has become a joke—a huge joke. In 2014, there is no excuse left for not legalizing MMA, and certainly there’s no reason to ignore what’s going on at the amateur level of the sport. Sadly, though, the state’s government will again side with lobbyists and play petty political games at the expense of the people they are meant to represent. Government in New York isn’t about what the constituency wants anymore. Now, it’s all about politicians seeking re-election by satisfying people who can keep them in office. Boy, I hope that sweet, sweet re-election victory is worth it, New York legislators.

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.