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New York Court Dismisses Part of Zuffa Lawsuit on Constitutionality of MMA Ban

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Michael Cohen, Getty Images
Michael Cohen, Getty Images
Getty Images

In a ruling made earlier this week, United States District Judge Kimba M. Wood granted a motion to dismiss two counts that challenged the constitutionality of the law that prohibited mixed martial arts in New York back in 1997.

The lawsuit was originally filed by UFC parent company Zuffa last November.

The ruling, however, does not dismiss the entire suit, but only two of the seven counts made by Zuffa. Namely, the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses.

In making her ruling, Judge Wood found that the law had a rational basis when it was originally passed, and that even with past safety concerns addressed, the law is still rational today.

Her conclusion (available here through attorney Justin Klein's Fight Lawyer blog) also noted that Zuffa's best recourse lies with the state legislature.

Wood did not rule on counts that related to First Amendment issues and the law's vagueness, among others.

A 2012 attempt to regulate MMA in the state throughout the Assembly failed again, as it has several years in a row. While legislation passed through the state senate as well as Assembly committees, it stalled out before hitting the floor, with Speaker Sheldon Silver declining to bring it forward for a full vote.

Silver recently told New York's "The Daily News" that viewpoints on MMA were "evolving," but even after the UFC promised the state two major events that would generate around $16 million in economic activity, the bill has hit a brick wall again and again.

Wood did not disclose when she would rule on the rest of the Zuffa lawsuit. Meanwhile, the legislative effort to pass sanctioning in the state will start all over again in January when the state's Assembly and Senate reconvene for the start of their 2013 sessions.

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