Fighting for Legitimacy: New York’s Underground MMA Scene

photo by Anil Melwani

Story highlights New York underground fight culture

Ben Popper is the latest writer to take a look at New York’s underground fight scene, this time for Vegas Seven magazine.

A crowd of around 100 people were crowded into a well-lit basement gym in Manhattan (the organizers asked us not to disclose its name for legal reasons), pushed up against a chain-link cage watching the action. Wrestling mats covered the floor and heavy bags hung from the ceiling. A burly bouncer stood by the front door to make sure no one arrived uninvited.

The New York underground MMA scene has received more attention than usual over the past few weeks due to the lawsuit filed by the UFC in an attempt to get the sport regulated throughout the state. The UFC’s lawsuit contends that New York’s ban on MMA is unconstitutional because it denies fighters their right to express themselves to the public via the various martial arts.

“This is mixed martial arts, emphasis on the arts,” said Barry Friedman, a professor of constitutional law at New York University. “The reason these athletes are suing is because they have been prevented from their self-expression on some of the biggest stages in the nation.”

Check out the full story at Vegas Seven’s website.

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