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NY State’s MMA Ban: Where’s The Beef?


When it comes to the ban of MMA in New York, the MMA community has less knowledge of the facts than they should. We know that the state itself does not have interests in keeping the sport banned indefinitely. Rather, the New York State Senate has overwhelmingly voted for Professional MMA’s legalization for years. We also know that the primary organization lobbying for the ban is none other than the Culinary Workers Union.

Most people may wonder what reason an organization like the Culinary Union might have to lobby for a ban on Mixed Martial Arts in any state. The surface of their argument cites moral reasons such as a general distaste (pun not intended) with the violence and sexism many might feel accurately depicts the world of MMA.  While even that argument alone may hold little merit for those who truly follow the sport, the real story is behind the scenes and encompasses a much more personal agenda for the Culinary Workers Union.

For years now, the Union has waged a political war on everything related to the Fertitta brothers. Being one of the two largest non-union employers in the (Casino) Gaming industry, for years the Fertitta owned Station Casinos have been under constant protest and scrutiny by the Culinary Union. Any issue with their agenda not withstanding, their ever changing stories about feelings towards the fighters in MMA show an erratic approach that deserves more scrutiny itself.  At times they may slander UFC athletes in one article while supporting them in the next. Ken Liu, research director for Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas, was quoted saying “For us there’s an eerie parallel in how the Fertittas treat their workers at Station Casinos and how they treat fighters in the UFC. As a union we have to continue to put pressure on this company from all conceivable directions.”  While it is certainly in the best interest of any union to do its best to advocate for its members, comparing UFC Fighters to Sous Chef’s is (pardon our pun) like comparing apples to oranges.  And if any organization should know the difference to that analogy it is the Culinary Workers Union.

They have made parallels likening the alleged mistreatment of fighters in the UFC to mistreatment of culinary workers at Fertitta owned Casino’s. However, for a union to make such an argument on behalf of a body of individuals it does not represent (UFC Fighters) is clearly outside the scope of their expertise.  Even if they were accurate in all their claims the legitimacy of the accounts should be verified by an unbiased third party that has expertise in both fields of work.

If the union has a valid claim against Zuffa, LLC. then they should take it up in a court of law and not play politics by lobbying for bans of a sport that has very little to do with their field of work.  Just because Zuffa, LLC. owns the UFC it does not mean that ALL MMA is tainted.  Even then the burden of proof is on the culinary union to prove there are issues with Zuffa, LLC. and the Fertitta’s management style.  The question remains, what is the real reason for the ban on MMA in New York state?

Our opinion remains that the state of New York should reconsider the arguments and hopefully lift the ban.  In support of lifting the ban, many have argued the financial merits, citing statistics like that of when the UFC held UFC 129 in Toronto, it pumped 45$ million dollars into the city’s economy.  While this also may be true, money aside, we would really like to know “where’s the beef” in the arguments supporting this ban?

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Adam Brennan
Coming from a family of fighters, and growing up on the jiujitsu mats of half a dozen MMA schools in Orange County and Los Angeles, Adam Brennan is a well informed member of the rapidly growing Mixed Martial Art community. As a competitor in the sport, he is very opinionated and vocal about both the flaws surrounding it and it's positive impacts on the martial arts community. Adam's love for the sport drives him to advocate solutions to issues and promote the successes. Dreaming of a career as a fighter, Adam spends his days as working two jobs and training hard every night at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach. Being a huge advocate of better athlete pay and a fighter union, he will stop at nothing to do his part to help bring the sport to the next level.