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If MMA legislation passes in New York, California will lose. Here’s why.

By Zach Arnold | April 25, 2013

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To read all CSAC-related articles, dating back to May 2012, CLICK HERE.

This weekend is UFC 159 in Newark, New Jersey with Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen and Alan Belcher vs. Michael Bisping. However, if you followed the regional press coverage in the New York area this week, you would assume that the UFC’s top priority for being in the area is to focus more on pushing for MMA legislation in New York state than promoting the PPV event in New Jersey.

The New York Times has an article claiming Mixed Martial Arts gets a lift from Andrew Cuomo, the state’s governor. Mr. Cuomo pushed for legislation on the grounds that it would bring money to the state. However, the biggest opponent for MMA legislation in New York is state Assembly leader Sheldon Silver. After indicating that he was softening his stance on the issue, he’s now firming up his opposition again by claiming that the economic estimates for what UFC could bring to New York simply aren’t good enough to justify proceeding with legislation.

Here comes NOW (the National Organization for Women):

The National Organization for Women, and other women’s groups, are calling for the continued ban on mixed martial arts—or what they call “cage fighting” because they claim it could lead to violence and attacks on women.


Click the image to watch the video from WNYT

Want to know how the television networks in New York are covering the situation? Watch this WNYT 13 video about the topic and listen to the preposterously hysterical pitch in John McLoughlin’s voice when he’s doing the voice-over. Bare knuckle brawling!

“NOW and other women’s rights groups are claiming that some of the top stars in Mixed Martial Arts have joked publicly about raping women and even have done internet videos showing how to attack women!”

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D) of Rockland County stated:

“The environment which creates a sexual domestic violence, the neo-Nazi messages that we see through the cage fighting events.”

Deborah Tucker of the National Center on Domestic & Sexual Violence stated:

“That there are actually films that include this kind of conduct and how to go about engaging in it. Kind of ‘lessons’ on how to assault a woman.”

What’s confounding here is the way that the opponents of NY MMA legislation are trying to make their case. They have plenty of ammunition on their side to make a damning portrayal of the absolutely stupid & moronic actions of UFC fighters & management. Joe Rogan himself is a one-man act in this regard. You can distribute copies of court filings regarding Jeremy Stephens’ case in Des Moines. You can show the screen captures of tweets from Forrest Griffin. You can play Dana’s rant against Loretta Hunt on a television set. It’s really not that hard to do a presentation to the press at large.

The problem is the ham-fisted way in which the political groups are trying to make their case in the press & how uneducated many in the New York media sound on Mixed Martial Arts. It’s rather frightening to watch.

In the WNYT piece, Lorenzo Fertitta is quoted as saying: “As a company, we have a code of conduct that when an athlete steps out of bounds many times they’re either suspended or fined. No different than the NFL.” Well, they just lifted the ‘contract suspension’ of Matt Mitrione two weeks after his comments about Fallon Fox. That slap on the wrist really hurt. Mitrione vs. Brendan Schaub is now booked for July 27th at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington for a Fox broadcast show.

Larry Epstein, UFC COO:

“I’ll hold up the record of our athletes frankly against the record of any other sport in this nation,” UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “I’m a huge NFL fan; I think there was 60-plus arrests this season in the NFL. … The issues they’ve confronted this year pale in comparison to a few comments here and there, inappropriate as they may be, by some of our athletes in the UFC.”

Those who are pushing for MMA legislation in New York are doing the best they can. Right now, their voices are being drowned out by the politicians and the interest groups. If the state’s power brokers don’t want MMA regulated after seeing how successful events have been in New Jersey, then I’m not sure what will change Sheldon Silver’s mind. Retirement really is the key here. Age is not on his side. I expect legislation to pass when he retires from political service. That may be a while, though.

Crain’s New York Business says that the politicians are making UFC sweat because they want to suck as much cash out of them for political donations as they possibly can:

“Everyone knows these guys have a lot of money,” the insider said, referring to the Fertitta brothers, who bought UFC in 2001 for $2 million and built the company into one reportedly worth $2 billion. “The ban has nothing to do with people being concerned about the morality of the sport or injuries to the athletes. This is about getting more money from UFC before the law is overturned.”

It’s a political tightrope for Zuffa. They have until the end of June to make it happen for this year. Otherwise, it’ll be back to the drawing board for 2014. They’re dangling the carrot/guarantee of four events a year in New York state.

With that as their main sales pitch, you would suspect that the biggest losers for MMA legislation getting passed in New York would be the political interest groups and New Jersey’s Athletic Control Board. However, financially-speaking, there is one state that would have the most to lose if UFC shifted four shows a year to New York — and that’s California.

Do the math: New York’s gain will be California’s pain

UFC is currently pushing a schedule of 30-35 shows a year. We know that they have at least four events scheduled for Nevada each year — Super Bowl weekend, Memorial Day weekend, July 4th holiday, and New Year’s Eve special. You have UFC Japan, Sweden, and perhaps three or four more foreign shows per year. They don’t run Texas or Florida, states with no income tax. They aren’t interested in running Tennessee for some reason.

Right now, California can usually count on three shows a year from the UFC. Four, if Cain Velasquez can headline in Southern California twice in a year. California is the most vulnerable to New York MMA legislation. If UFC lives up to their promise and brings four shows a year to New York, even if they are on the lower end of the scale, that means the margin for error with California is very small. UFC won’t completely abandon the state but if they shift their schedule to only run UFC once, maybe twice a year, that’s an easy $200,000 off the books for the California State Athletic Commission. It’s an economic loss for the cities they run the shows in. It also cements the fact that the three venues for California shows would be HP Pavilion (San Jose Arena), Anaheim Pond, or Staples. Sacramento goes off the table. UFC has a show scheduled at Arco Arena in the Fall. UFC has had two big shows so far in 2013 at the Anaheim Pond (Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche) and the Fox broadcast show at HP Pavilion (Gilbert Melendez vs. Ben Henderson). If you book a strong card in California, you can draw. If you book a Fuel-level card, it will bomb and bomb hard.

Ronda Rousey, Daniel Cormier, Urijah Faber, and Cain Velasquez are solid aces in the hole for UFC California shows. If the promotion has to book those fighters for events in New York or other locales, then it makes it harder to draw a good gate in California. That means less revenue for California. The squeeze will happen to the budget for the state commission. If you go from generating $400,000 a year in revenue down to $200,000 a year, that’s going to hurt.

Here’s the way to look at the situation if you put yourself in Andy Foster’s shoes. He’s an MMA guy, not a boxing man. California, in terms of local activity & big shows, is a state that relies on big boxing events to pay the bills. If you lose two UFC shows, then it means you have to make up for it by recruiting two more big boxing events in the state. Many big name boxers don’t want to fight in California because of the state income tax. You also have to keep promoters interested in staying in California to do business. This is why Dan Goossen’s legal situation with Tony Thompson perked the interest of CSAC. Golden Boy may be based in California but they are shifting many of their events to Texas, Nevada, and Florida (no state income tax plus Oscar can make the short trip from Puerto Rico). Top Rank will run some B-level shows in the state. Gary Shaw will run on tribal land along with other promoters. Roy Englebrecht will run his shows in Orange County.

The problem Andy Foster faces is that he’s going to have to saturate his focus on recruiting shows for the boxing scene in order to make up for lost revenue if UFC heads to New York. California will have to lean even more on boxing promoters to help their bottom line.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “If MMA legislation passes in New York, California will lose. Here’s why.”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    New York will be a double edged sword for fans of the area. When they get into NY…. there will be Vegas level fights. The problem is that there will be Vegas level pricing too.

    Once New York opens up…. It will give the UFC a huge city for their cards which will be able to relax some of the other smaller markets.

    But as said before…. New York is a special sort of place when it comes to politics…. and not in a good way. Such corruption…. too many money players in the game with their own agenda. And then the combo of wall street conservatives and hippie liberals…. what a mess….

    The Mitrione thing is comical. At least they fined him because that suspension is about as meaningful as a starting pitcher who gets the ball every 3 days getting a two day suspension.

  2. Ditch says:

    “Wall street conservatives”?! I would love to get an example of who that means. If Wall Street had any impact on NY politics, taxes wouldn’t be through the roof.

  3. King Famous says:

    I too have no idea what a Wall Street Conservative is.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    Not sure if you guys are serious…. Anyways… If you are…

    http://www.elearners.com/education-in-the-news/your-political-views-and-your-career-path-is-there-a-connection/

    This is a quick breakdown of political contributions by occupation. Money from the following sectors: Commercial Banks, Hedge Funds & Private Equity, and Securities & Investments all highly favor the Republican candidate. Where do you think the majority of these jobs come from? Mainly New York. Now, some of the people live in Southern CT or Northern NJ, but they all live in that NYC area.

    A lot of these voters from Wall Street will typically be socially liberal (they do live in the North East) and economically very conservative.

    “If Wall Street had any impact on NY politics, taxes wouldn’t be through the roof.”

    This is why New York is such a difficult state to operate in politically. There aren’t enough Wall Street people to get in very conservative candidates, but they have insane amounts of money to influence them once they are in office.

    And not to get too off topic…. But if your kid is born with Autism and you live in the south, the services in most of those states stink. Come up to the North East, and the services in most areas are fantastic. During the hurricane, Mayor Bloomberg pointed out that while people complain about higher taxes, the reason they have them is because when things go bad, they have the services in place to act.

    This is why Mayor Bloomberg (NYC Mayor) is awesome in a way. He is so rich he doesn’t need any contributions from anybody. So he can give a big FU to everybody and just go with what he thinks is right. I don’t always agree with his stances, but there is a reason he has some of the biggest balls in all of politics.

    New York State is really many different parts. The Niagara area is dirt poor with major poverty issues. Upper State New York is very rural (farm country). The area between the farms and NYC (Albany area) is pretty normal. Then NYC is a weird cluster of Wall Street, Old Money, New Money, Celebrities (Actors & Models), Artists, and many other sub groups.

    It is not a shock that the UFC is having such a hard time in NY getting sanctioned. This is par for the course for the state. It’s a clusterf#ck in many ways for businesses…. And yet when it comes to things that protect it’s people…. Like for example insurance…. They have some of the most consumer friendly laws in the country.

    You have to live in this general area to understand it I guess…..

    • RST says:

      “A lot of these voters from Wall Street will typically be socially liberal (they do live in the North East) and economically very conservative.”

      I see what you’re saying.

      Those aren’t real conservatives.
      They aren’t morally conservative.

      They only vote conservative because they’ve got jobs and financial assets to lose.

      And the dem party being the party of avoiding any real work and spending other peoples money.

      Which ironically is very similar to what wall street does IMO.

      (new york is as new york does after all.)

      The difference being that wall street makes its ill gotten gains on the health of industry,
      dems get their ill gotten gains from the size of the mob.

      But I agree,
      wall street are not conservatives and only vote so out of financial interest.

      The same way that Latino’s and Asians and Blacks are NOT liberals!

      But they vote dem for the stuff.

  5. sal says:

    Zach you are obsessed with California and the CSAC. Whats up with that??

    This if the first word you have uttered about NY legalization…and all it is is to say that it will hurt California.

    You’ve done a terrible job of actually covering the NY legalization issue…which is infinitely more important and significant than the internal workings of the CSAC and florida commission that barely anyone cares about.

    • RST says:

      “which is infinitely more important and significant than the internal workings of the CSAC and florida commission that barely anyone cares about.”

      Get over yourself new york. The reason you have no idea or refuse to admit that Zach writes extensively about new york legislation every time it comes up (more then it deserves IMO), is becasue you’re so self absorbed up your own navels. It’s new york that doesn’t matter. You’re an absurd and dysfunctional relic that murika and the whole world would be better off without. As crazy and messed up as Florida is, I’ll take it any day till the last over new york.

  6. RST says:

    How could cage fighting (or really anything in the known universe) possibly make anyone want to smack the isht out of a chick more then “The National Organization for Women, and other women’s groups” ?!

    I seems to me that people like that’s real problem is with projection and misdirection stemming from a general refusal to take responsibility for themselves or the results of their own actions.

    Its always everybody elses fault they claim,
    and they always need more of everybody elses money to “fix” it.

    Again.

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