Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
With MMA banned in the state, former UFC champ Frankie Edgar got his start fighting in New York's Underground Combat League. Jim Genia of VICE looks at the man behind the UCL.
Veteran MMA writer Jim Genia covers the NYC underground fight scene for Fightland with a focus on the organization that introduced former UFC Lightweight Frankie Edgar to pro fighting. Here's an excerpt:
New York State banned professional mixed martial arts events in 1997, but rather than waiting for the law to change, Storm decided to start his own fighting organization, the Underground Combat League. It's pretty much what you'd imagine a lawless no-holds-barred competition to be, with street fighters mixing it up with kung fu masters, jiu-jitsu studs, wannabes, and the occasional psycho, in boxing gyms in Brooklyn to martial arts dojos in Manhattan and Queens, even a mosque in the Bronx. It's Fight Club with members who actually know how to scrap, some of them disappearing forever after their foray into the underground, some of them moving on to sanctioned regional events. One UCL veteran, an assistant wrestling coach at Rutgers University named Frankie Edgar, went on to become a UFC champion.
If not for his judo black belt and knack for creating something out of nothing, Peter Storm could be any other Bronx native you'd try to avoid on the street. Sure, if you ran his fingerprints, the resulting printout would likely make your hair stand on end. But he's friendly and likeable, and if you text him first - and if he trusts you - he's even accessible. Go to his Facebook page and you'll even see recent pictures of him in the gymnasium of the New York City Police Academy, teaching cops how to grapple. He's a no-nonsense, no bullshit-type of guy, and probably half of what you think he'd be is true.
Genia has written an entire book about the Fight Clubs of New York: Raw Combat: The Underground World of Mixed Martial Arts. This article for Fightland is as good as you'd expect from the man who wrote the book on the topic. Read the whole thing.
I hope some New York state legislators are reading this and realize that their refusal to regulate MMA is creating an underground, unregulated, and untaxed MMA scene in their state.