MMA in New York in 2016? Dissecting the UFC’s Latest Lawsuit

Earlier this year when Federal Judge Kimba Wood dismissed a UFC lawsuit against New York alleging the State’s professional MMA ban was unconstitutional the Court noted that the Plaintiff’s did not have standing to sue.  The Court did suggest, however, that the law may not withstand scrutiny if the UFC could establish damages and invited

(the) Plaintiffs, particularly Zuffa, may consider filing new vagueness claims based on events that occurred after this lawsuit commenced, including the OAG’s recent statements that the Ban prohibits sanctioned professional MMA (despite its plain language to the contrary).”

Although the first lawsuit is under appeal the UFC was quick to take up Judge Wood on her suggestion and this week filed a second lawsuit.  Taking lessons from admissions gained through discovery from the prior litigation and further taking Judge Wood’s comments to heart the second lawsuit is a leaner and more compelling version of the first.  Zuffa booked Madison Square Gardens for an anticipated UFC card in April 2016 and signed a contract with the WKA to act as a sanctioning “exempt organization” arguably making the event legal.

The UFC is essentially now playing chicken with the State of New York to see if they will take action to shut the event down.  If they do they have damages and have standing to sue.  If not then they will get in the back door what has not yet fit through the front.

In short the lawsuit alleges that New York’s Combative Sport Law is unconstitutionally vague as applied to professional MMA and they are seeking a declaration stating the same along with an injunction preventing the State from enforcing the Combative Sport law against UFC professional events.

The full pleadings can be found here (courtesy of MMA Journalist Jim Genia) – Zuffa v New York

These are worth reading in full to see the sometimes inconsistent and difficult to understand stance that New York has taken trying to establish that the law prohibits modern day professional MMA in the Empire State.

The latest development is this claim is set to be heard by the very same Judge Kimba Wood who expressed strong views as to the merits of the vagueness claim.

Jim Genia Tweet Re Kimba Wood

Your move New York.

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