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Lift The Ban Watch: UFC Edition

When the UFC machine begins to pull all of it's many levers, big things happen. Next up is legalization in New York state:

ALBANY -- The Ultimate Fighting Championship is ready for a rematch with New York State.

On Monday, the company that owns the championship will begin its public campaign to legalize so-called mixed martial arts fighting in the state, 11 years after it was banned by Gov. George E. Pataki, who said at the time that "to have someone who wins by using choke holds and kicking people while they are down is not someone our children should be looking to emulate."

Zuffa, the company that acquired the championship in 2001, will unveil the Web site on Monday to argue that it has transformed the sport into more legitimate, and corporate-sponsored, entertainment.

Yet the company has been quietly laying the groundwork for months. In November, Zuffa retained the Albany lobbying firm Brown, McMahon & Weinraub for $10,000 a month, state records show. Then it hired a political consulting firm used by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the Global Strategy Group, for media relations. For good measure, the company made a $25,000 donation to the state Democratic Party in mid-January.

I took a look at the site and it's pretty impressive: dazzling displays of multimedia rich features with exhaustive but well-constructed bits of information. On the one hand, you want to thank Zuffa for making sure it's mixed martial arts that's being legalized, thereby opening the door for others in the sport. On the other hand, you have to recognize Zuffa never misses an opportunity to promote itself as the be-all, end-all of the sport.

And their ability to use connections, money and power players to push their agenda is staggering. Not that this is any real mystery, but efforts like the one in New York are effective reminders of just how powerful and connected the UFC machine really is. I hope they are successful with this attempt, but woe be to those who cross their path.

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