It’s Time, New York!
New York, the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, and while some may say the cultural capital of the world, it has yet to join among its 49 other united states and legalize the fasted growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts.
If it hasn’t been for the sport’s premier organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the day where we could see the world’s fastest growing sport in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, may never have come. Broadcast in over 129 countries and territories, in 28 different languages, and the largest Pay-Per-View event provider in the world, the UFC piloted this campaign through massive brand activation.
The UFC has been fighting for MMA to be allowed back in New York ever since it was unsanctioned in 1997. Unified rules of mixed martial arts were adopted and a bill to legalize mixed martial arts was submitted to the Assembly's Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks and Sports Development in 2008 but never passed. Continuing to not lose hope, The UFC released their first video game in 2009 with Madison Square Garden as a venue choice. From the years of 2010 to the present several UFC sponsored events, including viewing parties and pre-fight events in Radio City, took place and a series of bills continued to be passed by the assembly. In 2013, Connecticut and all provinces of Canada lifted MMA bans, making New York the last place in North America where MMA remains illegal.
The UFC continued to press for New York legislation, reaching out to fans to help petition through social media. Wielding a report demonstrating that legalizing professional mixed martial arts in the state will generate $135 million in economic activity annually in the state and, on top of that, it would provide for countless employment opportunities and nearly $6 million in state and local tax revenues according to a report prepared by HR&A Advisors, Inc., how could New York legislation continue to pass up this opportunity?
Making over $2.5 million next door at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, and the UFC promising a minimum of four events in New York (both upstate and in the city) per year for the next three years, a bill passed along with several changes to safety regulations, and MMA passed through four committees. After a three-plus hour debate on the floor, the Assembly finally voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing MMA, 113-25, on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The law becomes officially in effect only after Governor Cuomo signs off on it however, which he plans to.
One of the main factors of the success of the UFC’s brand activation is its fighters’ involvement. Former UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, has been a huge advocator for the campaign and probably one of the most invested fighters on spreading the news to New York, New York. In 2013, he became the fourth New York-raised fighter to win a UFC title defeating Anderson Silva at UFC 162. The fighter showed his little town blues melting away upon the hearing of the news that MMA has become legal in New York on social media. Other locals who expressed their excitement through social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter include: ranked featherweight, Frankie Edgar, and UFC up and comers lightweight Chris Wade, and welterweight Mickey Gall.
Activ8Media is an industry-leading digital marketing agency specializing in brand activation, sports marketing, UFC advertising and social media for businesses, athletes and entertainers.