Lift the Ban Watch: New York to Finally Legalize MMA in 2010?

New-york-city-at-night-325192353_std_mediumThat's the word coming from the MMA World Expo that took place in New York City over the weekend:

The first point the panel covered was an update on the A-2009, the bill to sanction MMA that was submitted to the New York State Assembly last year that stalled out in the Ways and Means Committee at the end of the legislative session.

Kim informed the attendees that the bill will have to go through its committee of origin again, as well as re-passing through the Codes Committee before it can get back to Ways and Means, and finally the general assembly.

Even with the added red tape, Kim was optimistic that the bill would not only get through the old committees, but that the process would go much faster this time around.

"I don’t think it will be a step backwards," said Kim. "Those votes [that passed the bill last year] aren’t going anywhere."

Commissioner Lathan was unable to comment on her preferences on the proposed bill, given that her position towards the law is required in her job description to be a neutral one. However, the general feel was very MMA positive and even the Commissioner admitted that sanctioning of MMA will create a much safer environment for the sport in the state.

"We have a lot of problems with the unsanctioned bouts; the smokers," Lathan said. "No data is collected. A fighter can fight one night, get knocked out, and be fighting somewhere else the next night. It is my belief that the regulated version [of MMA] will render the smokers gone."

It won't render them gone, but will certainly reduce their current position, which is a rather established grassroots MMA scene among camps both large and small in the area. Smokers in NYC are the de facto substitute for regulated MMA, so the more accurate way to describe the change would be to restore smokers to their more rightful place: an opportunity for the uninitiated to gain some valuable hard sparring experience, not a substitute for legal, professional grade MMA.

While it's a tad annoying to hear the legal hoops this legislation must jump through continue to pile up, the news is not ultimately discouraging. We are hearing nothing about a problematic future for the legislation, only that it won't pass in an expedited fashion. And candidly, whatever gives the commission more time to prepare themselves for adding regulated MMA to their daily docket isn't such a bad thing either. New York's athletic commission is highly experienced in regulating boxing, but the best and the brightest today in the regulating and officiating universe still require a ton of polish if what's going on in Nevada and California is any indication.

I'm in no rush. UFC at Madison Square Garden by late 2010 or early 2011 sounds perfectly fine to me. One hopes the added amount of time to this process has enabled more awareness to disseminate to those in relevant positions of authority. Either way, while it's irksome the train is still sitting at the station, at least she's still on the tracks.

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