Legalized mixed martial arts in New York will bring the UFC to Madison Square Garden in November, but that won’t be the first event under the new law.
That honor goes to KTFO, an amateur promotion that has hosted events on Long Island under a cloud of uncertainty since 2013, but is now set for its first totally legitimate card.
KTFO, formerly known as MMA Platinum Gloves, will host its 15th event Friday night at The Space at Westbury with 12 bouts scheduled, including three championship fights. Things won’t look or feel much different than past events for fans, but according to KTFO president Nic Canobbio, full legality goes a long way in keeping fighters safe.
“It’s not the Wild West any more,” Canobbio said.
The New York State Athletic Commission’s first test will be Friday night, but it won’t be overseeing this event directly. KTFO has used the United States Muay Thai Association, which is the only third-party amateur sanctioning body approved by the state at this time, to oversee its last three events and will be utilizing it once again. While not required to, the commission will have a representative on hand Friday night, said NYSAC spokesman Laz Benitez. The commission also has the authority to conduct compliance reviews and audits at any event to ensure all requirements are being met, Benitez said.
The new law makes it more difficult for events to be held in an unsafe manner. One big addition is the creation of a statewide fighter database that allows promotions and sanctioning bodies to communicate, Canobbio said.
Before the new law was passed, important tasks were left entirely to the promoter, including blood testing and weigh-ins, as well as pre- and post-fight medical examinations. Some promotions, of which KTFO was one, would hire third-party sanctioning groups to conduct these tasks, but there were no laws on the books requiring them to do so. Amateur MMA was unsanctioned and unregulated prior to the passing of the bill last March. Professional MMA, however, was against the law until then.
“In the past, let’s say a fighter fought for me and I used the USMTA and that fighter got knocked out, and the doctor said it’s a 60-day suspension,” Canobbio said. “Well, that suspension only went up so far, only to the USMTA level. I knew not to use that fighter again, and so did the USMTA and any other promotion that used them knew, but if you went to another promoter that used, say the [World Kickboxing Association], there’s no real talk between the WKA and USMTA.”
The lack of communication created a situation that could be unsafe for fighters trying to game the system.
“They’re putting themselves at risk without even realizing it,” Canobbio said. “They want to fight, but there’s a reason why there’s a 60-day suspension.”
Now that events must be sanctioned, everyone will be talking to each other nationwide, Canobbio said, protecting fighters from themselves or rogue promoters.
“At the amateur level, it’s all about the fighters,” Canobbio said. “It’s about getting them fights and getting them ready to move on to the pros.”
KTFO 15 FIGHT CARD
Ryan Castro vs. Paul Thimote (lightweight title)
Clubber Creed vs. Matt Roman (welterweight title)
Irvin Averbukh vs. Justin Klein (bantamweight title)
John Gotti vs. Ruslan Volinchii
Geoff Costa vs. Brandon Piscak
Devin Dickens vs. Austin Wolfson
Johhny Pierro vs. Jonathan Potts
Eric Martin vs. Jason Olcott
Mike Jardine vs. John Lamia
Juan Peneloza vs. Mike Fitzroy
Dilik Zaripov vs. Joseph Rios
Andrew Noia vs. Christian Acerbo
(bouts subject to change)