UFC in New York: Zuffa Gets Big Break, Could See Ban Lifted Soon

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2013

The UFC may finally be able to put on events in New York.
The UFC may finally be able to put on events in New York.Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The story of MMA in the 1990s, UFC 12 and the barring of an entire sport in one of the largest states in the union is one that has been told many times. Our own Jon Snowden recently wrote a fairly comprehensive guide that you can read here.

As detailed, the UFC has been pushing for MMA to be legalized in New York for a long while and, while the goal seemed insurmountable at times, it seems as though the UFC may finally be able to stage an event in the Big Apple. Zuffa's attorneys and representation from the state of New York met in court today. MMA Journalist Jim Genia reported from ground zero earlier today (via fightline.com).

In what was supposed to be a day of oral arguments pertaining to the State Attorney General's most recent motion to dismiss, attorney John M. Schwartz – representing the Attorney General's office – acknowledged unequivocally that the law prohibiting pro MMA did not apply to amateur versions of the sport, and that as per the statute, a pre-approved third-party sanctioning body could oversee MMA events in the state. The admission of the latter prompted the counsel representing Zuffa's interests to say that if that were truly the case, then there'd be no further need to pursue the lawsuit – which in turn prompted the presiding Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S District Court of the Southern District of New York to push both sides to immediately settle...

...Notwithstanding whether a settlement is reached, the door is now open for Zuffa – or any other MMA promotion – to circumvent the ban by utilizing one of the pre-approved sanctioning bodies enumerated in the statute. Those sanctioning bodies include the World Karate Association (since renamed the World Kickboxing Association, a.k.a. the "WKA"), the Professional Karate Association and the U.S. Judo Association, among others.”

While this doesn't mean that the doors have been thrown wide open for mixed martial arts in New York, it is a huge breakthrough for the UFC.

Dana White has long discussed the difficulties Zuffa has faced in getting the sport sanctioned in New York, primarily blaming the Culinary Workers Union of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Fertitta brothers, who own the parent company of the UFC, also own a series of union-free casinos. The Culinary Workers Union has used its political leverage in New York to hold the state hostage in an attempt to force the Fertittas to allow their workers to join the union.

Still, this is a major announcement, and will allow the UFC to make good on the Dana White's wishes for a 20th anniversary event in Madison Square Garden. In previous attempts to get the sport legalized in the state, White has tried to leverage local heroes and champions such as Frankie Edgar to raise his chances.

While an official settlement has not been reached, watch for it to happen soon. Stick with Bleacher/Report for more developments as they happen.