After years of lobbying, it looks like UFC will finally be able to hold an event in New York this year. But rather than resting on their laurels as the final push to pass MMA legislation through the Albany statehouse occurs, they’re pulling out the big guns and adding Ronda Rousey to the fray.
Until now, it’s been an annual tradition for Assembly head Sheldon Silver to kill legalization efforts by refusing to give a vote to any MMA bill that came to him. This, according to Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White, was on account of Silver’s friends having a problem with Fertitta’s casinos in Vegas being non-union. In other words, it was dirty politics, and since 2008, it has kept UFC out of Madison Square Garden.
With Sheldon Silver gone from his power position in the Assembly due to corruption charges, a proper vote will finally occur, and UFC is banking on Rousey’s mainstream appeal to get their message across to politicians and the public. Via the Washington Post:
“I really believe it will pass this year because … Silver, who got arrested for corruption — the fact that the guy who was arrested for corruption was against this bill is a testament that no one should have been against it at all,” Rousey said at a press conference outside the Senate chambers after meeting with Cuomo, whom she called a “cool guy,” in his Capitol office. “If the corrupted guy didn’t want it to pass, then I would like to be on the other side of that.”
Rousey also pointed out that the current law bars professional MMA, but somehow still allows underground amateur fights to continue unchecked in basement gyms across New York City.
“New York state is the most dangerous place in the United States to do MMA,” Rousey told media outside the Senate chambers. “MMA is here right now. It’s just not regulated. It’s only allowed at the amateur level. Amateur athletes, they’re not paid, not regulated. There’s no blood testing to make sure that the athletes are safe. There’s no drug testing.
“It’s so dangerous that something needs to be done about it. They need to be regulated. They need to be protected. They’re really being neglected right now.”
The bill still has its detractors, mainly female senators who think that one more state legalizing the sport will somehow encourage violence against women. Rousey had eloquent words to smack that nonsense down, as well.
“Having women shown fighting on TV shows that it’s OK for us to be strong,” said Rousey. “It’s OK for us to fight. So much history is being made through MMA for women in sports. It’s a new sport so it’s not really bogged down in tradition the way that a lot of others are.”
“Maxim [Magazine] came out with the ‘Tough Issue,'” Rousey said. “Suddenly it’s not ‘in’ for women to be frail and emaciated for them to be attractive. This is becoming a new thing where little girls, they’re not looking at Cinderella’s and Barbies, they’re looking at female fighters. They want to grow up strong. They want to be able to protect themselves. They want to be ambitious instead of being taken care of.”
Maybe it’s a stretch to say that legalizing mixed martial arts will play a major role in smashing the patriarchy, but not allowing live events in New York when shows are held next door in New Jersey and everyone in the state can still watch the sport on TV seems stupid. And while you can usually rely on your government to keep stupid going long past the point of sanity, this small bit of stupid looks like it’s finally going away. Democracy works?