This FanPost Was Edited and Promoted to the Front Page by Anton Tabuena
Hello BE, it's your favorite Canadian lawyer returning to drop some knowledge bombs on your collective cranium. You might remember me from an earlier fanpost regarding the legality of MMA in Canada (which you can find here). I've had a chance to take a look at the full complaint from ZUFFA, and thought that I'd share some thoughts with my fellow BElitists. This is going to be a quick and dirty post, but I wanted to get something out for you guys to chew on while the chewing is good.
After the jump, check out the 5 things you didn't know about the UFC's Lawsuit.
Here is a link to the full complaint, but fair warning: It's 123 pages and 15 MB of legalese.
1.) Meet the Plaintiffs
In addition to the big-name MMA fighters (Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar, Matt Hamill, and Gina Carano), the fellow SBN bloggers Beth and Donna Hurrle mentioned in Josh's article, as well as Zuffa LLC itself, here are the other plaintiffs you may not have heard of.
2.) Meet the Lawyer
Barry E. Friederman is an academic. He's a professor of law at NYU, and specializes in constitutional law. His most recent book is aptly titled, "The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution". His Wikipedia article states that he was an 11th Circuit Court of Appeal clerk, which is a pretty impressive academic achievement. However, he's only listed as the "Of Counsel", which means he's only the "front man" for the legal team. The case is actually being run out of the law firm Morrison & Foerester LLP (and yes, "mofo.com" is their website address), one of the top law firms in the US with over 1,000 lawyers.
3.) The Causes of Action
The plaintiffs are pleading seven distinct causes of action (a "cause of action" is basically an independent reason for why the lawsuit should succeed). Greatly paraphrasing, they are:
Essentially, the Plaintiffs are taking a "shotgun" approach and making a wide variety of arguments in the hopes that at least one will stick. (To be clear, this is pretty standard procedure for most lawsuits, and I'm honestly a little surprised that they only limited themselves to seven).
4.) The 2001 Liquor Ban
In 2001, there was an amendment to the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws that prohibits the sale of liquor at any event where there combatants are "delivering kicks, punches or blows of any kind to the body of an opponent or opponents" (New York Alco. Bev. Cont. Law § 106 (6-c)). The law provides an exception for events such as boxing, wrestling or other traditional martial arts.
I'll admit, I'd never heard of this prohibition before now. This part of the lawsuit is unique, because it doesn't impact professional MMA in New York, but also amateur MMA as well. It's the only part that doesn't pertain directly to the 1997 ban, so it's somewhat of a side-issue. I found interesting that the Plaintiffs chose to tack this on to their lawsuit.
5.) Bruce Lee Gets a Shout-out
At paragraph 18 of the pleadings, it reads:
The legendary martial artist Bruce Lee combined – or mixed – a variety of martial arts to create his famous martial concept, Jeet Kune Do, a predecessor to MMA, for Lee refused to limit himself to any single style of martial arts. Lee's fighting was considered revolutionary in its fusion of different martial arts styles at a time when cross-training in different martial arts was taboo. On the expressive message of martial arts, Bruce Lee was unequivocal, stating: "But if you don't have [martial art] styles, how can [I] express myself, totally and completely? ... To me ... ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself ..." Lee's moves bear noticeable resemblance to present-day MMA.
The "introduction" section also discusses the Gracies and the pre-Zuffa origins of the UFC. It was also interesting to read, at paragraph 50, that the Bellator-Spike 2013 partnership was offered as proof of MMA's growing popularity. The lawsuit claimed that Bellator was the number two MMA organization in the world, and that the Spike partnership would give Bellator access to over 100 million viewers.
When I initially heard about the lawsuit, my first reaction was that the chances were grim. However, after reading through the Plaintiffs' arguments, my initial skepticism has now been replaced with some measure of hope. The arguments that the Plaintiffs are making are similar to the ones made in opposition to the California violent video game ban, which was recently overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States. The timing of the lawsuit (following so closely on the heels of UFC on FOX) as well as the excellent lawyers retained by the Plaintiffs leads me to believe that MMA has a decent chance of success in court. Here's to hoping!!
Cage Potato for the .PDF of the Complaint
Google for all the links you see above.
Graphic via MMAWeekly
The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.