UFC plans to hold April 2016 event in Madison Square Garden

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2016 edition of "UFC wants to be in New York". We're starting a bit earlier than normal because…

By: Mookie Alexander | 8 years ago
UFC plans to hold April 2016 event in Madison Square Garden
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2016 edition of “UFC wants to be in New York”. We’re starting a bit earlier than normal because the UFC has reserved Madison Square Garden for April 23rd, 2016. New York banned MMA in 1997 and the only time the UFC has held a show there — yes, they’ve done a show in NY — was UFC 7 in Buffalo a cool 20 years ago this month. This year, legislation to legalize MMA wasn’t brought up for an NY State Assembly vote.

“We believe fight fans have waited long enough to experience live UFC events in the state of New York and we are thrilled to announce our first event at Madison Square Garden,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “Professional MMA is legal around of the world and it is about time New York followed suit.”

The key paragraph in the press release is the fact that the UFC have deemed the ban as “violating the First Amendment rights of athletes and fans throughout the state”, and as such they’re appealing on the grounds that it is “unconstitutional”:

“On September 28, UFC filed a new case in federal court, reiterating its claim that the New York law banning MMA events is unconstitutional. This out-of-date law is too unclear for the public to understand, and has allowed regulators in New York to pick and choose arbitrarily what events they will permit. Events featuring every combat sport except MMA seem to be allowed in New York, though this is not explicitly stated in the law. The statute, and the state’s pattern of enforcing it, violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unconstitutionally vague laws.”

“Later this week, UFC will ask a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction against New York state officials enforcing its unconstitutional law. Without such an injunction, the event at Madison Square Garden will not be able to proceed.

Bold emphasis is mine.

While I am in no way, shape, or form competent enough to break down the incoming legalese set to happen over the next few months, New York journalist and occasional BE contributor Jim Genia has an interesting angle on this on Twitter, which I’ve re-posted below:

For the record, WKA = World Kickboxing Association.

The UFC previously reserved MSG for shows in 2014 and 2013, but it appears what makes this different than the rest is formally announcing the event as opposed to just reserving the venue but waiting on the MMA bill to pass through the Assembly. But as mentioned in the press release, if no injunction is granted, then the April card is dead in the water.

We’ll continue following this story as it develops over the coming months.

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Mookie Alexander
Mookie Alexander

Mookie is a former Associate Editor for Bloody Elbow, leaving in August 2022 after ten years as a member of the staff. He's still lurking behind the scenes.

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