The battle for MMA in NY just got a bit more interesting! Two months after Zuffa Entertainment filed a lawsuit against the New York State Attorney General on the grounds that the state’s ban on MMA is a violation of First Amendment rights, the plaintiffs predictably responded with a move to dismiss. This tidbit of info comes from page 21 of the New York State Attorney General’s motion to dismiss, which states that while professional MMA may be illegal in The Big Apple, amateur MMA is technically not. Here is the pertinent paragraphs from the official document:
Plaintiffs also object to NY Unconsol. Law Sec. 8905-a, because, while it prohibits ‘live professional MMA,’ it is silent as to amateur MMA contests, which ‘undoubtedly occur every day’. They further claim the statue is ‘vague’ as it is unclear whether the ban applies to amateur MMA exhibitions. To the extent that it does not ban amateur MMA exhibitions, Plaintiffs assert that the disparate treatment of professional and amateur MMA activities violates the equal protection clause. This claim, too, is meritless.
The statute’s provision on its face explicitly speaks to ‘professional’ combative sports and does not address amateur sports. Moreover, while the legislature, in another statute, regulates amateur boxing and wrestling, the legislature has not enacted a provision expressly addressing any amateur martial arts activity. Accordingly, the statute does not treat amateur MMA bouts any differently from amateur bouts involving traditional martial arts.
And, to the extent that the legislature, with regard to traditional and mixed martial arts, has drawn a distinction between amateur and professional bouts, it hardly needs saying that a rational basis exists for such a distinction. Moreover, Plaintiffs, themselves, aver in the Complaint that it was not until the statute was enacted that amateur MMA contests began to proliferate. Plainly, the legislature had a rational basis for explicitly banning professional MMA bouts, but not to address amateur contests.
While the above argument is meant as an attempt to dismiss the current assault on the MMA ban, it is now the official stand of the New York State Attorney General that amateur and exhibition mixed martial arts matches are legal in the state of New York. As shown in other states, the development of MMA is reliant on state sanctioning, which amateur MMA still does not have, even if it is not expressly banned. But, the fact that amateur MMA is now officially legal will have a big impact on the legislative argument to sanction all forms of MMA. You can read the full document at this link here.
Via MMA Journalist