MMA & Politics Look to Go Another 5 Rounds

Posted: October 5, 2010 in Local MMA, Marketing, PR, UFC

The perception war on MMA continues and the UFC continues to be the largest voice in the attempt for national regulation and public acceptance.

From ESPN/Sherdog: “UFC Cashes out in NYC”

According to Monday’s edition of The New York Post — picked up by FightOpinion’s Zach Arnold — the UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, has dumped nearly $75,000 into the campaign of governor’s office candidate Andrew Cuomo. You do not need a flow chart to understand that Zuffa would like Cuomo to be its muscle in the state when legislation for legalizing MMA comes up again. (It was shot down earlier this year by the state assembly; New York remains one of only two states with specific laws prohibiting MMA.)

Cuomo, the state’s current attorney general, is the Democratic nominee. His rival, Republican Carl Paladino, has been under media scrutiny for making unfounded accusations about Cuomo’s fidelity during a prior marriage. As usual, politics make MMA seem tame by comparison.

Is this the final furlough in what’s amounted to a 13-year struggle to get the sport recognized in one of the most economically viable states in the nation? Cuomo hasn’t issued a statement revealing his views on the subject one way or the other, and Paladino is said to have “reservations” about MMA. Funding politicians is no guarantee they’ll be sympathetic to your cause. Polls show Cuomo may have as much as a double-digit lead over Paladino.

Either man would have to navigate around the efforts of Bob Reilly, a state assemblyman who holds some influence over the assembly and who has a draconian view of combat sports fed by a child’s understanding of the activity. Reilly’s “Chicken Little” act will eventually be tossed, though the state’s MMA fans might have to wait until he retires or moves to a new career. Someone has to keep that Elvis off TV.

My take: An unfortunate evil.  Almost every major sport is regulated and therefore has some level of government involvement.  In order to get the right people behind you, you sometimes have to play one of the oldest games in politics: the donation game.   This happens in almost every business in existence. Even America’s favorite past time, baseball seems to have a different player on the stand to discuss steroids or on camera providing their political view every other week.   Will MMA stars be using air time to tell us who to vote for? I hope not.  But who knows.  If MMA can move past the political roadblocks for full nationwide promotion, then the marketing potential for the sport would be limitless.

  1. […] from the UFC and other MMA organizations continues toward Madison Square Garden.  I wrote about Dana White’s movements in NY and now this week, the UFC  continued the push and held several media events in NYC to help move […]

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