The amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) scene in Buffalo is picking up these days, thanks to a number of gyms that are training fighters, and a waterfront venue that has become the ‘go-to’ for local promoters. Don Lilly is the TNT Fight Series promoter who first put RiverWorks on the map as a venue for the fights. Lilly has been in the MMA business for the last ten years, as a manager, promoter and previous gym owner. Now Lilly is fighting to showcase some of the toughest MMA athletes in the northeast at a venue that he feels is a real knockout.
According to Lilly (inset), the MMA scene is alive and well in Buffalo, with three gyms participating – Pride MMA in Clarence, Pursue Martial Arts in Williamsville and WNYMMA in Buffalo. The uptick in local gyms involved with MMA fighting, along with a venue such as RiverWorks that provides the needs of the promoters, means that the sport is growing among fighters and fans. “We hold one of the biggest events a few times each year in the state,” Lilly told me. “Since our inaugural show, over 30 other promoters have done ‘ammy’ (amateur) events at RiverWorks. Personally, I have put together over 20 combat sporting events in Buffalo since 2012.”
On Saturday, July 16, (716 Day), TNT Fight Series will be hosting ‘The New Breed’ live amateur MMA fight – a ticket that is drawing fighters from Canada, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. “TNT is considered “The Best Show in Town!”, Lilly touted. “Our events have always given fans a great time. This card has two of the best flyweights in the northeast as our main event – Billy Windrum (Buffalo NY) vs Dustin Bertch (Jamestown NY). This fight will be worth the price of admission.”
Now that the amateur MMA fight scene is growing in Buffalo, I asked Lilly what he thought about the prospects of seeing straight up professional MMA fighting being legalized in New York State. “It’s all ammy at this point in NYS,” he told me. “The Athletic Commission is supposed to come out with pro rules and regs by September or November. No one can do pros yet. TNT was the first to ever put on an MMA event. The rules for pro events and sanctioning events are the most severe in the nation. The NY Post just came up with the closest thing to be considered an update, just yesterday (see article).”
If the Athletic Commission comes out with a ‘green light’ ruling, Lilly is prepared to take MMA to another level. In the meantime, he’s working with some of the best amateur MMA fighters in the business.
MMA fight fans are gearing up for the big day – 716 Day – when RiverWorks turns into a Buffalo Fight Club. For more information, and ticket information, visit www.tntfightseries.com. Or call 716.352.6900 for info.
TNT Fight Series | RiverWorks | 359 Ganson Street | Buffalo, NY | 7/16/16 | Doors at 5 | Lights start 6