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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

No Holds Barred: Rob Maysey on Ali Act for MMA and Growth of MMAFA 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Rob Maysey of the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA).

We spoke with him by phone Friday.

Among the many activities of the MMAFA is the fight to expand the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2000 and enacted then, to cover all professional combat sports, including MMA. You can view and sign the online petition to expand the Muhammad Ali Act here.

The rebellion of fighters against unfair contracts and treatment has grown tremendously in recent years, entering a new stage where numerous fighters are today publicly speaking out for change and in support of the MMAFA. These issues and the activities of the MMAFA have been covered for many years on No Holds Barred.

"I'm not sure if your show was the first or not. It was definitely one of the first. I think it was way back in 2008 or so," Rob Maysey said about when we first spoke on this show.

"Since that time, as you know and have seen, the MMAFA has grown by leaps and bounds. You're now seeing numerous, highly prominent fighters come out in support of the MMAFA. They're supporting our petition to have the Ali Act expanded to cover all combat sports. They filed the antitrust lawsuit currently pending against Zuffa. And they generally are the reason you're seeing other fighters now voice complaints. For years that wasn't the case.

"So when I started doing this, when I was coming on your show years ago, I would say things I knew were true, because I was getting it from the fighters and their agents, and people just didn't believe it because the fighters weren't yet saying it themselves.

"Now you're just seeing what we knew all along, because the fighters are saying it in public. That's the biggest difference. And as they get more comfortable voicing their story to the public, you'll see more and more fighters doing it. That's something we work on every single day."

We discussed many topics, including: how boxers have many more contract protections than MMA fighters and earn a much larger percentage of the overall revenue from their events; how UFC adapted the business model of WWE to a real sport; how the structure of MMA gives promoters control over titles rather than independent bodies; the differences between the MMAFA and what a union would do, including various Johnny-come-lately outfits which have popped up following the recent UFC sale; how there is a need to create the mechanics of competition in MMA to serve the fighters' interests; the effect or lack thereof on all this of that UFC sale; the bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for expanding the Ali Act; the important use of social media by fighters and fans; the role of MMA journalists; and much, much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

The Boxing Tribune, boxing's independent media. Unlike every other major boxing website, The Boxing Tribune is not funded or owned by promoters, managers, or networks, and is fully independent and free to write the truth. For independent boxing news and views, go to http://boxingtribune-news.com.

The North American Catch Wrestling Association, a grassroots organization designed to help rebuild the sport of catch-as-catch-can-wrestling. For more information, go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/NorthAmericanCatchWrestlingAssociation.

The National Registry for Wrestling, whose mission is to increase wrestling's fanbase, to build a registry of all wrestling fans, to serve as a connecting point for all wrestling fans, and to provide TV and Internet listings for wrestling. For more information, go to NR4W.com.

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The Fighters' Rebellion 

(Note: This article was originally written on May 23, 2008, for ADCC News. It is reposted here in full.)

When the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship bought the assets of the now-defunct Pride Fighting Championships of Japan last year, they thought that it was the start of a new era in the mixed martial arts. They believed that now almost all the best MMA fighters in the world would be promoted exclusively by them, and that they would have a virtual monopoly on the top fights and fighters not seen in a combat sport since the days of the notorious International Boxing Club in the 1950's, which was later broken up by the U.S. government.

The Pride purchase did mark the dawn of a new era, but not the one envisioned by the billionaire Fertitta brothers, who are the majority owners of the UFC.

The top heavyweight and pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world was, until recently anyway, almost universally regarded as Fedor Emelianenko, who had fought for Pride until that company folded. While Pride's contractual complexities meant that Fedor's contract was not automatically transferred to the UFC as a result of the sale, the UFC bosses did try to sign him to a new contract. Fedor refused, citing "disrespect" and their onerous exclusivity clauses. He even called this type of contract "disgusting."

Fedor's rejection of the UFC led their then-heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, to resign from that company in October. The reason was that Couture, who turns 45 this June, wanted to defend his belt against the best heavyweight in the world, Fedor, and that fight was now impossible unless Fedor signed an exclusive contract to be promoted by the UFC. So Couture quit in hopes of having that fight promoted by another entity.

The UFC-Couture contract dispute is still tied up in court, but it appears obvious that there is no way that Couture will ever fight for the UFC again.

Now UFC's former top star, Tito Ortiz, has said that he will leave after the final fight on his contract, which is this weekend against Lyoto Machida. UFC president Dana White has responded with torrents of profanity-filled insults directed at Ortiz, who wasn't even invited to the event's final prefight press conference.

On top of this, former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia has left the company, and is scheduled to fight Fedor on the July 19 Affliction card in Anaheim, Calif. Sylvia is enjoying his free agency, noting at the Affliction news conference in New York Thursday, "No one wants to do exclusive contracts anymore." He said that he will fight this year for both the Affliction and Adrenaline promotions, and hopes to fight in Japan this year as well.

Even some in the mainstream media are beginning to lose their patience with Dana White. Ed Graney in the Las Vegas Review-Journal recounted some of this history, and wrote of a "dictatorship, which is what happened with the growth of UFC under the leadership of its president, who a friend of mine fittingly described Wednesday as 'the white Don King who happens to be bald.'" He also talked of fighters "who exist under White's authoritative thumb." (http://www.lvrj.com/sports/19169329.html)

While White continues to attack the upcoming EliteXC May 31 card, which will be telecast for free to over 100 million homes in the U.S. on CBS, UFC events are only available on the relatively small Spike TV network and on pay-per-view, for those willing to fork over a one-time fee to watch those shows. At the same time, these pay-per-views are more and more widely available for free on pirate sites, such as SopCast, which are committing copyright violations but are nonetheless reaching growing audiences. So the entire pay-per-view business model, which has been a key source of revenue for companies which have relied on it, is now in danger of being wrecked by the advance of technology.

With fighters jumping ship and their business model in question, we now also see more and more people discussing the very legality of the UFC's contracts. This may be decided, at least in part, by the courts hearing the Zuffa-Couture case.

I raised this issue in December 2007 in the article "It's Time for Federal and State Investigations of UFC Contracts." (http://www.adcombat.com/Article.asp?Article_ID=14555 - New link: http://nhbnews.blogspot.com/2016/01/from-december-2007-its-time-for-federal.html) Now it is more common for the issue of whether or not these contracts violate either the letter or spirit of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to be discussed.

So yes, we are indeed entering a new era. It is not, however, the era of an unchallenged monopoly, but of a fighters' rebellion. Unlike failed attempts to rally athletes in other sports such as boxing, the key players in this loose but growing rebellion are some of the sport's top stars and fighters.

And in Japan, where just a year ago UFC seemed to be in a position of dominance, UFC is running no shows, either under the Pride name or their own name. At the same time, various forces in the mixed martial arts world in Japan have regrouped to form companies such as Dream and World Victory Road, and are attempting (with mixed results) to fill the void left by the collapse of Pride.

Ah, the perils of dictatorship. If you study history, you know the eventual fate of all tyrannies. This one may be in an eight-sided cage, but the signs are all there that it getting ready to be overthrown.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Illegal State of Most Combat Sports in New York 


Let me break this down once again since some people are having a hard time grasping this, whether from disbelief, not reading the law or listening to Jim Genia and me on No Holds Barred, poor reading comprehension, or just pure laziness and ignorance. As of last Thursday, September 1, ALL combat sports in New York, professional or amateur, except pro boxing and MMA which are sanctioned separately, have to be run by a sanctioning body which has been approved by the New York State Athletic Commission. These explicitly include: kickboxing, muay Thai, wrestling/grappling (presumably including all kinds such as jiu-jitsu, catch wrestling, sambo, etc.), judo, tae kwon do, karate, kempo, and amateur MMA. The non-refundable application fee for a sanctioning body of one or more of these is $1,000. Plus, bonds of $10,000 and $20,000 must be secured as well. A long questionnaire must be filled out, plus detailed recordkeeping are also required. Then the NYSAC will decide if they will bother to approve the application or not.

Without all of this:
Kickboxing is illegal in New York.
Muay Thai is illegal in New York.
Wrestling/grappling (presumably including all kinds such as jiu-jitsu, catch wrestling, sambo, etc.) is illegal in New York.
Judo is illegal in New York.
Tae kwon do is illegal in New York.
Karate is illegal in New York.
Kempo is illegal in New York.
Amateur MMA is illegal in New York.

That application form can be seen here.

The "regulations implementing and governing combative sports in New York State" can be seen here.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

No Holds Barred: Jim Genia on How New Law Will Kill Grappling and Wrestling in New York 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with MMA journalist Jim Genia.

While much attention has been given to the recent re-legalization of MMA in New York, the rules and regulations issued Thursday, September 1, by the New York State Athletic Commission to implement this new law contained some disastrous surprises for the various styles of grappling and wrestling.

Now, as of September 1, organizations wishing to sanction events in professional and even amateur grappling, wrestling, judo, and other disciplines must apply for licensing from the New York commission. (The staged pro "wrestling" is in a separate category and defined as not a real sport.)

New York's General Business Law defines combative sports in § 1000, section 3:

"'Combative sport' means any unarmed bout, contest, competition, match, or exhibition undertaken to entertain an audience, wherein the participants primarily grapple or wrestle, or deliver blows of any kind to, or use force in any way to manipulate, the body of another participant, and wherein the outcome and score depend entirely on such activities."

In the athletic commission's regulations for implementing and governing combative sports in New York State, under the heading "Application for License", it states:

"Section 214.4. (a) An entity may make an application for a license to supervise and oversee the conduct of matches and exhibitions of one or more of the following authorized combative sports: wrestling, kickboxing (including muay thai), amateur mixed martial arts, and the single discipline martial arts of Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Kempo."

Yet the "NYSAC Application for Combative Sport Authorized Sanctioning Entity License" has a different list. Applications to sanction one or more professional combative sport (except boxing and MMA, which are handled separately) can be made in, according to this wording: "Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling/Grappling, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kempo." Applications to sanction one or more amateur combative sport can be made in, according to this wording: "Mixed Martial Arts, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling/Grappling, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kempo."

No definition is given as to what is included and what is not in "Wrestling/Grappling", and it is doubtful anyone on this commission even knows what this means.

The non-refundable application fee, which does not guarantee getting licensed, is $1,000.

In addition, the sanctioning bodies are required on this form to file with the New York Department of State bonds of $20,000 and $10,000: "An authorized Sanctioning Entity must execute and file with the Department of State: Bond in the sum of $20,000.00 conditioned for and guaranteeing the payment of purses and the legitimate expenses of printed tickets and all advertising materials and; Bond in the sum of $10,000.00 conditioned for and guaranteeing the faithful performance of the authorized sanctioning entity of the provisions of Article 41 of the General Business Law and the rules and regulations of the Commission".

That application form can be seen here.

The "regulations implementing and governing combative sports in New York State" can be seen here.

These organizations running amateur events must also provide accident insurance for each athlete of a minimum of $1,000, death benefit coverage of $10,000, and file a mountain of paperwork, as well as having to follow more regulations, some of which are unclear in this poorly-written set of commission rules.

Obviously, these onerous fees alone will make it impossible and not affordable for such amateur grappling and wrestling events to take place in New York State.

To discuss this, we spoke with Jim Genia Saturday.

"A number of factors have put us in a position where we are right now," he said. "One of them was that, one of the major talking points in getting mixed martial arts legalized in New York was that there were all these unsanctioned, unregulated events going on in New York.

"Now, you and I, we're savvy about combat sports. We know the difference between an MMA show and a grappling event. But, the people up in Albany, they can't tell the difference.

"So unfortunately, to help curb all these unregulated events, the grappling events were lumped together in the new statute, in the law, and in the athletic commission guidelines, with these unsanctioned MMA shows.

"And now we're stuck."

We also discussed the effect on all this by the ongoing multi-million dollar lawsuit against this commission and others by brain-damaged boxer Magomed Abdusalamov. This suit involved the disgraceful lack of treatment he received after his November 2, 2013, fight at the Theater in Madison Square Garden. After a brutal fight and after he complained of head pain, the commission advised him to take a taxi to Roosevelt Hospital rather than transporting him immediately by an on-site ambulance. This resulted in wasting precious time until he received emergency brain surgery. He was then in a coma for several weeks, still needs 24-hour care, and is unable to stand or speak.

This situation prompted an investigation by the New York State inspector general's office, but the report wasn't released until July 2016, a month after Abdusalamov's attorney sued to have it released. The delay in the release of this report could lead to a federal investigation of an attempted coverup, since the New York investigation began almost three years before the report was finally released.

And we discussed more about these regulations in depth; how we must demand that the two vacancies currently on the New York State Athletic Commission be filled by people who understand MMA, grappling, wrestling, and other martial arts; what action we must take; the new one million dollar insurance requirement for boxing and MMA promoters to get for each fighter on a card to cover the costs of serious head and brain injuries; and much, much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is free to listen to and is sponsored by:

The Boxing Tribune, boxing's independent media. Unlike every other major boxing website, The Boxing Tribune is not funded or owned by promoters, managers, or networks, and is fully independent and free to write the truth. For independent boxing news and views, go to http://boxingtribune-news.com.

The North American Catch Wrestling Association, a grassroots organization designed to help rebuild the sport of catch-as-catch-can-wrestling. For more information, go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/NorthAmericanCatchWrestlingAssociation.

The National Registry for Wrestling, whose mission is to increase wrestling's fanbase, to build a registry of all wrestling fans, to serve as a connecting point for all wrestling fans, and to provide TV and Internet listings for wrestling. For more information, go to NR4W.com.

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