The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s push for regulating mixed martial arts across the world hasn’t gone unnoticed by filmmaker Bobby Razak.
Razak, best known to MMA fans for his TapouT documentary “Underdogs,” is in the final stretch of wrapping up a 90-second commercial and three 10-minute short films exploring regulation in New York and Canada.
“Marc Ecko contacted me and wanted to do it. It was kind of Marc Ecko’s idea,” explained Razak. “Marc’s a New Yorker, so he was the guy who was behind it.”
In addition to Ecko (born Marc Milecofsky), Razak’s project features New York-based fighters Phillipe Nover, Lyman Good and MMA Fanhouse’s Ariel Helwani. On the Canadian front, Tristar Gym trainer Firas Zahabi and Quebecois fighters David Loiseau and Patrick Cote spoke on the issues. Ambassadors like Frank Shamrock also contributed. Conflicting schedules kept UFC executives from appearing.
The problems in The Empire State and in The Great White North both keep mixed martial arts from developing; however, the solutions are drastically different.
“The main problem in Canada is this law called section 83. Section 83 is basically an interpretive law that’s 100-years-old and it was geared toward boxing,” said Razak. “So because it was geared toward boxing, its not relevant to MMA. Its not been updated. So it’s very interpretive—some regions hold it, some regions don’t. In terms of New York, its not in the hands of the people.”
Razak explained New York is in a “battle of political power” between opposing lawmakers while Canada faces indifference and legislative quicksand in no unison among provinces. New York has a clearer path asserts Razak as opposed to Canada, which needs to update a law “no one understands” or “can’t get around or can’t fight it.”
Razak is no stranger to the perils of mixed martial arts’ illegality. He was around Southern California’s underground scene running with the TapouT crew. Now he’s met New York’s black market promoters and features a look into the scene in his upcoming projects. The reminder that mixed martial arts has more growing pains ahead inspires the Los Angeles-based director to continue working in the sport after 12 years.
“I love MMA, I support MMA. I want it to be legal everywhere. I love New York State. I’m working in New York all the time,” said Razak. “I would love to go—it’s my dream to always go to Madison Square Garden and watch a fight. It’s the ultimate arena.”