Ultimate Fighting Championship has retained former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement to represent the promotion in its appeal against New York’s ban on MMA.
Earlier this month, Judge Kimba Wood of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the UFC’s lawsuit against the state on a technicality, ruling that New York’s MMA law “is so vaguely written that reasonable people could not understand what it prohibited.”
However, Wood advised the UFC and its co-plaintiffs to “consider filing new vagueness claims.” The judge also said that the New York Attorney General’s statement that that state’s ban prohibits sanctioned MMA was made “despite the law’s plain language to the contrary.”
The UFC’s efforts to appeal the ruling will be led by Clement, who in 2011 represented the NBA in labor negotiations and the NFL when a lockout threatened to cancel the season. According to a release, Clement “has argued more than 75 cases in front of the United States Supreme Court.”
“I am delighted to be representing the UFC in this important challenge to New York’s outdated and unconstitutional law,” Clement said. “Even New York officials are confused about the scope of this hopelessly unclear law, and by targeting professional MMA matches and exhibitions, the law raises First Amendment problems of the first order.”
New York banned professional MMA in 1997 because of concerns about the sport’s safety, but due to the lack of clarity regarding the law, unsanctioned amateur events are not included and have taken place in the state as a result.
Recently, UFC President Dana White revealed that the promotion has tentatively booked Madison Square Garden for an event in December.