UFC spent over $2 million to successfully lobby New York legislators

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After what he says were more than 20 visits to New York’s capital of Albany lobbying on behalf of the UFC in the past seven years, the promotion’s vice president of regulatory affairs, Marc Ratner, finally saw his and others’ work pay off last week when the Empire State assembly approved a bill that seeks to legalize and regulate professional MMA. The former Nevada Athletic Commission executive director told the Las Vegas Review Journal that it was all about taking New York legislators to school.

"This is really just an education process," he told Adam Hill.

"It took us a little longer to get things done, but it’s essentially what we’ve done in every jurisdiction. Ultimately, the facts and rational arguments were the winners."

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Pitching those facts and rational arguments didn’t come cheap, however. The Journal’s story says that excutive vice president and general counsel Lawrence Epstein and UFC co-owner and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta estimate that their organization "spent more than $2 million lobbying" New York legislators over the past eight years.

Fertitta expects that their lobbying efforts will be a good investment and yield good return for the UFC from business in New York. The promotion has already said that it plans to produce two events in the state between now and the end of the year.

"New York is the biggest market for us in the United States already from a pay-per-view standpoint. It’s the most important media market in the United States and probably the world," Fertitta explained.

"We have high expectations that when we do events at Madison Square Garden or at the arenas upstate. We think it’s going to be great for the fighters and the industry. It’s not just the UFC. We’ll see other promotions like Bellator, which is owned by Viacom, going there. You’ll also have midsize and smaller promoters. I think you’ll see a lot of economic activity in the state. I think it’s going to be a big deal."