TNT Fight Series Tip-Toes Around MMA Ban In New York

Tony Pipola wins his amateur MMA debut by unanimous decision and poses with his coach, Stephen Koepfer of New York Combat Sambo. Photo via Sambo Steve's Twitter.

On Saturday night, buried underneath the Bellator and Strikeforce events that weekend, an mixed martial arts event was held in the city of Tonawanda. Normally, a card full of amateur MMA athletes would be a little outside Bloody Elbow's usual sandbox, but Tonawanda happens to be in the state of New York - which has banned professional MMA since 1997.

The elected representatives in the New York State Assembly recently "chose" to not legalize professional MMA events - leaving New York and Connecticut as the only states in the country on that particular side of this metaphorical fence. Connecticut is not known as a lucrative market for professional sports, so the majority of the limelight and scrutiny has been focused on New York.

In a bold move, a local fight gym decided to find out exactly what New York's MMA ban comprised and found out that it could actually hold the first sanctioned New York MMA event in ten years - as long as it was an amateur card and regulated by a sanctioning body - any sanctioning body would do. So they went ahead and did it.

After the jump, where Tonawanda is, the local coverage, fight results and Peter Lampasona of The Fight Nerd's perspective on the event.

Tonawanda is a town of roughly 16,000 people out on the extreme west side of New York and is located slightly north of Buffalo proper. The border with Canada is close and the popularity of mixed martial arts is on the rise there. A local gym, Victory MMA and Fitness, contacted the United States Muay Thai Association to sanction the TNT Fight Series event that it wanted to hold in Tonowanda.

The rules of the event required that head kicks and knees be banned and that shin guards be worn, as well as the usual MMA-style fingerless gloves, mouthpiece and groin protector. Ten bouts went off successfully and from all reports, no dubious matchmaking - a la Illinois-style - was present here. Half the bouts went to decision and the other half had four submission finishes and one knockout finish.

Peter Lampasona was present at the fights and wrote an excellent column detailing his experiences and perspective:

The same special provision in the law that allowed the TNT Fight Series to be sanctioned where professional mixed martial arts is expressly illegal was used back in 2002. But New York authorities still made every effort to force all vestiges of MMA out of the state. Knowing this bit of history, part of my attention was at the door the entire night, expecting state police to burst in at any moment for some last-minute drama.

Fortunately, the actual result of the TNT Fight Series was an amateur event that went off without any problems beyond some things that are to be expected from a new promotion. However, there are two important pieces of information New York fans and legislators need to take away from both the positives and the negatives of the TNT production.

I have added emphasis to the crucial line. What are you waiting for? Find out what two things Lampasona is talking about by clicking on his article over on The Fight Nerd. Hint: one has to do with the officiating.

The event was a big deal in Tonawanda and garnered some very positive local press from The Tonawanda Newsand YNN (a local New York news network that serves the whole state). YNN even had video of the proceedings and of the audience - regrettably, the video is not embeddable and must be watched on their site.

The full results are as follows:

1) Billy Culver defeated Henry Van Buren by triangle (Round 1)

2) Anthony Bubba Norton defeated Matt Mclaughlin by kimura (Round 1)

3) Brandon Mueucki defeated Kalil Summerville by arm bar (Round 1)

4) Corey Lauth defeats Scott McGregor by KO (Round 3)

5) Anthony Pipole defeats Jaquan Sumler by decision (Round 3)

6) Josh Himes defeats Kevin Ayers by triangle (Round 1)

7) Pete Mazzeo defeats Jimmy Neploian by decision (Round 3)

8) Hassan Mamhood defeats Brandon Oden by decision (Round 3)

9) Jabriel Patterson defeats Rafel Niewarowski by decision (Round 3)

10) Mark Dipalma defeats Brian Piccolo by decision (Round 3)

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