Amateur MMA Card Uses Legal Loophole to Get Sanctioning in New York

While the state of New York still does not sanction, and in fact explicitly prohibits, the sport of mixed martial arts, a loophole in the Empire State’s wholesale ban on combat sports does allow for sanctioned amateur MMA, which a promotion and sanctioning body will be taking advantage of for the first time in ten years. This May in Tonawanda, New York, just north of Buffalo, promoter and veteran of the MMA events held on tribal reservations Erik “The Bull” Herbert is teaming up with the USMTA to bring a fully sanctioned amateur mixed martial arts card, the TNT Fight Series, to state land.

The legal ban put in place in 1997 that prohibited professional MMA in New York technically took with it all combat sports apart from boxing. However, certain select bodies, such as the USMTA and the WKA, are allowed to sanction “martial arts” competitions within the state. To the letter of the law, by the admission of the New York State Attorney General’s office, amateur MMA falls under the category of “martial arts.”

While this loophole has existed for nearly as long as amateur MMA competitions, it’s been a decade since the last time someone tried. After Lou Neglia’s “Vengeance at the Vanderbilt” MMA card was held on June 28, 2002, New York began putting heavy pressure on all MMA events. Amateur mixed martial arts shows in New York were shut down whenever they popped up, with local authorities citing obscure zoning regulations and looking for every excuse to declare them illegal while state authorities quietly threatened sanctioning bodies against doing any further work with mixed martial arts.

To this day, most organizations that can regulate amateur MMA in New York are fully aware that they have that privilege, but are unwilling to deal with the potential dangers of doing so.

The USMTA and Herbert have completely flaunted the 10 year long taboo with the upcoming TNT Fight Series, much to the shock of the New York MMA community. The USMTA and Herbert have not yet issued a statement regarding this bold maneuver, but are expected to in the immediate future.

More will be available on this story as it unfolds.

Comments (5)

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  1. I don’t see it as a “loophole” as the law does not address ammy mma at all as a combat sport. To me, the loophole really deals with pro mma, muay thai, etc. In reality, I see this show as simply acting lawfully and in accordance with the law. To me, the reason why this is significant is that in the past the state has overstepped their boudaries with regard to shutting down ammy shows. Now, they admit it is not their place as ammy is legal, always has been.

  2. Peter Storm says:

    I hear no mention of my name, the Underground Combat League, or of Jim Genia, the people responsible for bringing this loophole to light almost a decade ago. And now it seems that everyone is an expert in the law that I challenged many moons ago……smh
    For the record if you didn’t have the nerve to stand up to the commission THEN, DON’T jump on the bandwagon NOW. ~pS®

  3. Don Lilly says:

    I am the co- promoter of the event and match making the card Exactly, there is no laws, loopholes, or any gray areas being crossed. The NYSAC only governs Pros for two sports (boxing & wrestling) After much review on ammy MMA, it’s no different then karate, judo, jui jitsu, ect ect competitions run every weekend throuout the state. We are working with the USMTA to ensure laws and guidelines are meet.

  4. Benjamin Berkshire says:

    I see nothing wrong with this card taking place. Professional mma is banned in NY, not amateur. That might seem like a small technicality but really there is a HUGE difference. Its a lot less violent. Good for Herbert for getting the ball rolling on this

  5. Steve Rita says:

    Hey Don do you need a referee i’ll go to NY, I also supply mma gloves to all the mma shows in Ma, Nh, and Me. call me 603-231-9364

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