Ironic that New York – being national trend setter for everything from fashion to culture to entertainment – is the last to understand, accept, and legalize MMA. It’s glaring in the omission. Especially after neighboring Connecticut got on board last week, and Canada cleared up an antiquated law making MMA legal throughout its provinces. This leaves the great Empire State the final frontier. Not in a good way, more in the manner of the last kid in school to realize what is cool.
The problem is much easier to detect than the solutions. It is the Culinary Union versus the UFC. It has been a prolonged, bitter battle. Operative word: bitter. Not from personal experience but through friends who have gone through small court claims with contractors, neighbors, and family members, once the mere threat of legal action is thrown down the recovery process is never the same. There is always the realization, regardless of the outcome, that this should have been worked out outside the courtroom.
That is the predicament in New York. There has been no manner of civility; it is an in-your-face public feud. And both sides need a mediator, a calming force in this constant storm with legal fights and political lobbying locked in a stalemate. Inside MMA has been at the forefront of cutting to the chase in why this New York problem exists and cannot improve. Last week Renzo Gracie told me before and during the show that he has the solution: get him involved.
Gracie has lived in the New York region for 18 years, he runs his famous gym in the shadow of Madison Square Garden. He has a friendship with the representatives of the powerhouse union and of course his family is synonymous with MMA.
It’s not all on the strong shoulders of Renzo but he makes the needed point, someone has to intervene to bring these sides to an agreement and bring MMA to New York. To Gracie , as all the truly tough guys understand, bullying and posturing cause nothing but hard feelings with negative results. We’ve seen that drag out in this case. Real power and strength comes from the willingness to compromise. The real men acknowledge an impasse and work through it, not run into it. If not Renzo, then someone who has the respect of both sides and can find a common ground. Because New York now stands alone, and not in the way it usually does – as a leader.
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