Mixed martial arts promotion sues New York State over ban

Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:21pm EDT
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The leading mixed martial arts promotion company on Monday filed a federal lawsuit challenging New York State's law banning its events, the latest effort in a longstanding battle to bring the combat sport to the state.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Zuffa LLC [ZUFFA.UL], which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), said the law "is so badly written that neither ordinary persons nor state officials are able to say with any certainty what it permits and what it prohibits" and is therefore unconstitutionally vague.

New York is the only state that does not sanction mixed martial arts, which has exploded in popularity in recent years. In 49 other states, the sport is legal and regulated by athletic commissions.

The office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which will litigate the case, declined to comment.

Mixed martial arts involves bouts between fighters who use a variety of combat styles, including kickboxing, judo, wrestling, boxing and karate.

The state legislature passed a ban on "combative sport" in 1997, at a time when mixed martial arts was still in its relative infancy. Matches were advertised as "no holds barred," and promoters boasted that the fights had "no rules."

Since then, however, the sport has undergone major changes, including rules that protect fighters by prohibiting dangerous moves, the lawsuit said.

Earlier this year, the legislature failed to take up a proposed bill that would legalize the sport.   Continued...

Sep 5, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) and John Dodson (blue gloves) during their flyweight title bout at UFC 191 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Johnson won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY