University at Albany officials abruptly cancelled a cage fighting event scheduled for today at the SEFCU Arena, after the state Athletic Commission indicated it appeared to violate New York law.
Organizers with Five Guys Fighting were informed of the change Wednesday and were forced to move the event to the Washington Avenue Armory on Friday next week. UAlbany spokesman Karl Luntta said the event was not sponsored by the university and deferred all other questions to the commission and Five Guys Fighting.
“We were apprised by the New York State Athletic Commission in a letter that it appeared the event featured unauthorized activities under the laws of New York,” he said.
Ryan Clark, one of the organizers with Five Guys Fighting, said the state was under the misguided impression that the event would feature mixed martial arts bouts. Mixed martial arts fights have been banned for more than a decade in New York but would be legalized under a proposal Gov. David Paterson unveiled with his 2010-11 budget plan.
Clark said the event will feature different types of fighting. But he said each match will fall under the guidelines established by the state, meaning UAlbany had no real need to cancel the event.
“We’ve been working for [mixed martial arts] to get approved for a while,” he said Friday. “The last thing we want to do is send up red flags, especially at a state school.”
Calls to the state Department of State, the agency overseeing the athletic commission, were not returned Friday. Attempts to contact officials with the athletic commission were unsuccessful.
It is unclear how many tickets were sold to the event today or what agency will be sanctioning the fights. Matt Hamill, an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter and special guest at the event, credited the organizers for being able to switch locations at such short notice.
“Props to Five Guys Fighting for finding another venue and keeping this event alive,” he said in a post on his Web page this week.