Pardon me for assuming the worst when Massachusetts’s Department of Public Safety threatened to nix the UFC’s Boston show over stupid paperwork issue, but I’m getting used to assuming the worst whenever the government is involved. Like in New York, where MMA legislation has stalled out in the State Assembly for the fourth year in a row.
You may remember last month’s installment of As The New York Assembly Turns, where Grand Overlord Sheldon Silver had decided to toss women’s rights organizations a bone by refusing MMA the final vote it needed for legalization. This was all in an attempt to mollify them after being caught covering up his friend and fellow assemblyman Vito Lopez’s chronic sexual assault of staffers. That’s according to the New York Daily News. The official line, which came today:
According to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a noted opponent of the bill, the decision to exclude the bill from the current legislative session’s agenda was made after a meeting of the Democratic Conference on Tuesday night.
“The conference has asked not to put it on the agenda,” Silver revealed to reporters at the state’s capital.
This despite the bill already having the written support of 64 members. And just to put that into perspective, the New York assembly is comprised of 150 seats. By everyone but Sheldon Silver’s word, the extra 12 votes needed to pass the bill were there any time the thing hit the floor. But it didn’t. Again. Because democracy is broken.
Lorenzo Fertitta released this statement, which I think does a pretty good job summing up the bullshit that now makes New York the only place in North America where mixed martial arts is illegal:
“While our disappointment cannot be overstated, our commitment to seeing New York legalize the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world is intact and undeterred. We continue to strongly believe that legalizing and regulating MMA in New York is the right thing for the state economically, the right thing for the millions of fans in New York and the right thing for the safety and benefit of the thousands of professional and amateur MMA athletes across the state.
“This year’s new, absurd, offensive, and completely erroneous charge used to justify the defeat of MMA legislation was that MMA is anti-woman and leads to domestic violence. This is a deception fabricated by a Las Vegas union that is recklessly and callously trying to use an important societal issue to try and punish the UFC. It isn’t honest and doesn’t work.
“It doesn’t work because our business is not harmed by not being in New York, as much as we would like to be there for our fans and for the arenas, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses which would see substantial economic benefits from the legalization of MMA in New York.
“And it isn’t honest because preventing live professional MMA events in New York does absolutely nothing to address the issues they claim to champion but really exploit. MMA is now legal in all 49 other states. Why has there not been a single protest in any of those states by any group or individual purporting to being fighting for women’s rights? It is a false argument and those making that argument know it.
“The union is exploiting the issue to attack the UFC. Before UFC fired Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the union and their supporters said in New York that they were ‘appalled’ by his behavior. Yet, when he recently signed with another promoter there was not a peep by the union or its allies.
“This canard hurts women and hurts New York. Continuing to ban MMA in New York does not hurt the UFC. It only highlights the absurdity of the dishonest debate being waged by a small number of people in New York. And New Yorkers pay the price.
“If New York’s leaders really do have a commitment to fanning a growing business climate in the state, they have a heck of a way of showing it. We genuinely feel bad for the hotels, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses that support our effort and have championed this cause. We also feel bad for New York’s arenas – large and small, particularly those upstate – that are struggling and have worked alongside us to pass the legislation. I guess New York’s loss will continue to be New Jersey’s, Massachusetts’, Pennsylvania’s, and Toronto’s gain.
“We want to thank Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle – a true champion – and the more than 60 cosponsors who know passing this bill is the right thing to do. We will continue to work with them to educate the rest of their colleagues.
“This bill has now passed the Senate four years in a row – 47-15 this year – with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. That’s right, strong majorities of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate support this bill and we know if we could only get a vote in the Assembly, we would see strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans supporting the bill there.
“Speaker Silver said legalizing MMA in New York is ‘inevitable’ and we agree. It is discouraging that the Speaker does not yet believe that the bill has garnered the support of his conference, however, we appreciate that he has brought it to conference for the last two years and we are convinced that the third time will be the charm. To paraphrase a famous movie line, we’ll be back.”