NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Lorenzo Fertitta UFC Chairman and CEO looks on during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Keep fighting the good fight.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) CEO Lorenzo Fertitta is pushing forward in Zuffa's attempts to legalize mixed martial arts (MMA) in the state of New York.
Ever since the "Empire State" imposed a ban on MMA in 1997, Zuffa officials have been trying to somehow reverse it to hold an event in the "Big Apple." In fact, for the last four years, UFC President Dana White, Fertitta and several fighters on the UFC roster have been lobbying for the ban to be lifted.
And every year, the ban remains intact.
White has often stressed to state officials the positive economic impact that a live UFC event would have on the state and surrounding areas. The UFC President has also expressed his desire to hold an event in the famed Madison Square Garden, stating that a show in the "world's most famous arena" would do very well monetarily for both the UFC and Manhattan.
However, Fertitta also has his sights set on another city in New York -- Utica to be exact.
Joined by State Senator Joseph Griffo and Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, Fertitta held a news conference on Thursday (Nov. 18, 2011) at "The Cage Ultimate Sports Bar," which is owned by recently retired UFC star and Utica native, Matt Hamill and his trainer, Duff Holmes, during which he committed to holding an event in "The Hammer's" hometown.
Courtesy of UticaOD:
"It's not about violence; it's about competing at the highest level. I will make a commitment that we will bring an event to the auditorium here."
Would that be enough incentive to get the former light heavyweight star back inside the Octagon?
If the ban to allow mixed martial arts events in New York were to be lifted, Holmes says it could also mean the return of Matt Hamill:
"I think that could be the one thing that might pull Matt Hamill out of retirement."
"The Hammer" announced his retirement from mixed martial arts after his loss to Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 133 on August 6, 2011. The loss, which marked his second in a row, prompted the former "The Ultimate Fighter" alum to post this message on his website:
"Today is a sad day for me. After six years and 13 fights in the UFC, I'm ready to hang up my gloves and retire from the amazing sport. The UFC has been extremely good to me and given me an opportunity to make a great living. That exposure has allowed me great options outside the octagon as well. I just don't have it in me to fight anymore and my last two performances have shown that."
A fight in his hometown could be just what the doctor ordered to get "The Hammer" back inside the Octagon.
Fertitta made the stop in Utica on his road tour in attempts to push the recently filed lawsuit that the UFC filed against the state of New York: Specifically state Attorney General Eric Scheiderman and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
The lawsuit claims the ban on mixed martial arts violates the fighter's First Amendment, which allows them to express themselves through their performances in their sport. The lawsuit also claims that it violates other provisions such as the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process clause.
The New York Country District Attorney has yet to comment on the lawsuit.
With the recently field lawsuit, and many New York officials on Zuffa's side, it could mean that mixed martial arts could be making some progress towards sanctioning.
The ban has been close to passing all stages in New York's State Senate, only to fall in the final hour.
Regardless of all the past failed attempts, it seems the Zuffa officials do not have any plans in letting up anytime soon.
If anything, their attempts are only getting stronger.
What do you say Maniacs, do you feel that mixed martial arts in New York will ever be a reality, or is the UFC fighting an unwinnable fight?