Tonawanda News — In early February at a hearing of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, the state attorney general’s office noted that the MMA ban didn’t pertain to a pre-approved third-party sanctioning body like the World Kickboxing Association. So if there are no other options, Lilly said promotions can start using different commisions to saction a professional show in New York state, but he’d prefer the state just legalize the sport.
Herbert, also from Tonawanda, is 4-2 as a professional, but since the Raging Wolf promotion went out of business — it was considered legal because it’s overseen by a tribal commission — he hasn’t been able to fight in front of friends and family.
“I manage seven professional fighters in Western New York and in Buffalo — MMA fighters — and trips to Pennsylvania, Ohio get stagnant for them and their fans,” Lilly said. When Eric and Eddie Weizer fought in the (Seneca Niagara) Casino, they sold 100 tickets themselves to the fight. Friends and family wanted to see them fight.”
The other side of the argument that mma advocates have pushed is the economic benefits to legalizing the sport in New York state. Lilly said that projections show that a UFC event at Madison Square Garden would generate about $15 million for the city. A UFC event in Buffalo at the First Niagara Center is estimated to bring in about $8 million to the Western New York economy. Lilly said these are dollars that this community just can’t afford to turn away.
“Everyone sees the numbers and they are like, ‘We can make money,’ and they are right — we can,” Lilly said. “But that bill has been there for two years. The state is crying about everything, (about) making cuts, taking stuff away from education. Wouldn’t the state love to put $15 million in on a weekend? And that’s just one weekend. Or $8 million to the region of Buffalo? That’s the economics of it.”