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Co-founder of UFC defends lawsuit against NYS

By NICOLE HART

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Lorenzo Fertitta, the co-founder of the UFC, was at The Cage sports bar in Utica along with UFC Fighter Matt Hamill on Thursday afternoon, to present a check on behalf of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

After the donation was presented, questions started flying about the lawsuit he, athletes and fans of the UFC have filed.

"This obviously isn't about violence and to prove that, our injury rate is lower than other sports," Fertitta said. "Certainly, lower than boxing and to a certain extent because all of those components that are legal in New York, we feel like we're being discriminated against."

This is in response to the lawsuit the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, has slapped New York State with.

Fertitta went on to say, "Basically, our belief is that, the ban, which is in existence right now violates these athletes' rights to perform under the first amendment."

For the last four years, the UFC and New York State have been battling over legalizing Mixed Martial Arts.

New York is the only state left in the union to not allow the live practice of MMA.

Now, the UFC feels as though they have no other choice but to sue.

Senator and proponent of the sport, Joe Griffo, says that bringing the sport to New York would only benefit the state.

"I do believe, if you study the facts, you would see, as I said, the sport is everywhere," Senator Griffo said. "It is growing in fan base and popularity. You can watch it on TV. So, the only thing you're doing in New York with keeping the ban on, is not allowing our fighters to participate in their home state and allowing other communities to benefit economically and not allowing a spectator to go to see the event live."

The UFC has recently signed a seven-year deal with FOX sports. A recent match shown on the network brought in 8.8 million viewers.

The bill has passed in the New York State Senate twice, but has been held up in the Assembly.

Fertitta says he hopes that by filing the lawsuit; New York will have no choice but to finally legalize the worldly popular sport.

Senator Griffo agreed.

"I think that the only question here is - why would we not allow the issue to come up for a vote? That's the bottom line," Senator Griffo said. "We've had a lot of controversial issues and we've allowed them to come up for a vote."

Fertitta says he is confident the UFC has a winning case. If the state legislators are called into session before the year ends, there could be another vote on the bill. If not, the next time the bill will hit the floor will be sometime in January.

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