Lou Neglia, the man behind the Northeast regional promotion Ring of Combat, has announced his intention to hold the first sanctioned professional MMA event in New York since last week’s admission by the State Attorney General’s office that such events could go on via third-party sanctioning. Although an exact date has yet to be determined, the event will take place in May at a venue in Manhattan.
“I am not defying the law,” said a confident Neglia. “I am just following it as it’s written.”
The law Neglia is referring to is New York’s 1997 ban on combative sports, which has kept organizations like the UFC and Bellator from staging events in the Empire State. However, a provision in the statute for third-party sanctioning – and the state’s acknowledgment that such a route would permit pro MMA competitions – means that events could conceivably happen before the ban is repealed through legislative means.
Neglia, a former champion kickboxer who once fought at Madison Square Garden in 1983, has been putting together both kickboxing and MMA shows for years. His Ring of Combat organization began holding events in New Jersey in 2003, and has seen dozens of its alumni graduate to UFC competition. Prior to that, Neglia’s Vengeance at the Vanderbilt events on Long Island featured the MMA debuts of Matt Serra, Nick Serra, Pete “Drago” Sell and Phil Baroni, among others.
The last sanctioned pro MMA bout to occur in New York City was at a Neglia-promoted 2002 event called “Battle on Broadway”, which took place in the ballroom of a hotel in Times Square.
(Credit goes to Black Belt Magazine writer Mark Jacobs for the scoop. His blog can be found here.)
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